Ranji Trophy: Maharashtra on the verge of commanding win

Seamer Anupam Sanklecha ran through the Assam line-up in both its innings to leave Maharashtra four wickets away from a likely innings victory in its Group B fixture in Chennai.

Anupam Sanklecha took eight wickets in the first innings and three in the second.   -  K. Pichumani

In what was a fiery spell of fast bowling throughout the day, Anupam Sanklecha ran through the Assam line-up as he put Maharashtra on the brink of an outright win on Day Three of the Ranji Trophy match here on Wednesday.

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Sanklecha’s figures of 8 for 73 in the first innings helped Maharashtra dismiss Assam for just 256, giving his side a 286-run lead. Skipper Swapnil Gugale had no second thoughts about enforcing the follow-on and once again the right-arm pacer was in action as he picked three wickets to reduce Assam to 115 for six at stumps.

Ahead of the match, both teams reckoned a first-innings lead was the most probable outcome on a wicket that still favours the batsmen. But Sanklecha bowled with pace and got the ball to raise from length consistently, much to the discomfort of the Assam batsmen. The 34-year old’s ability to make the batsmen play was impressive as he bowled without losing intensity on a hot day.

Resuming on 132 for three, Sanklecha struck in the second over of the day, dismissing overnight batsmen Kunal Saikia caught behind. Then skipper K. B. Arun Karthick and opener Rishav Das tried to resurrect Assam’s innings as the duo added 85 runs for the fifth wicket.

Karthick looked good during his 47-run stint with sweeping effectively and using the cut shot against left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar and Satyajeet Bachhav. But just 25 minutes before lunch, Karthick tried to sweep off-spinner Chirag Khurana only, to find the mid-wicket fielder. In the next over, Das followed when he checked his drive off Sanklecha, giving a simple catch to the mid-on fielder 14 short of his ton.

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Asked to follow on, opener Rahul Hazarika fell prey to Sanklecha once again. This time the pacer produced a moment of athletic brilliance as he dived to his right on his follow through to hold on to a one-handed catch. Left-arm pacer Mohsin Sayyed then picked up two quick wickets as Assam slumped to 32 for three and then 52 for four when Khurana dismissed Sibsankar Roy.

Karthick and Saikia once again tried to bring some respectability to Assam’s innings with a 52-run partnership only for Sanklecha to return towards the end of the day and take two quick wickets dismissing Saikia and J. Syed Mohammed to put his team on the verge of seven points.