Deepak Hooda drove bottom-placed Baroda to a position of strength at 358 for six with a sparkling unbeaten 190 on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy cricket league match against Punjab at the Ferozeshah Kotal ground here on Thursday.
The 21-year-old Hooda, scoring his third century in as many first-class matches this season, following the ones against Mumbai and Gujarat, hit 16 fours and three sixes in his 215-ball knock. His previous best was 142 and this was his sixth first-class century.
Opting to bat, Baroda was at the mercy of Sandeep Sharma who sent back both the openers and ended the day with a four-wicket haul. Siddarth Kaul and Shubek Singh Gill provided good support.
However, the spinners struggled to make an impact except for helping Punjab, a chastened side from the last match against Bengal when it had to cough up a huge penalty from its fee, to run through the full quota of 90 overs for the day.
Hooda and Dhiren Mistry (76) stabilised the Baroda innings with a 178-run partnership for the third wicket that set the tone for the day. Wicket-keeper Pinal Shah gave good company for Deepak Hooda, and later it was Swapnil Singh who ensured that the response from the Baroda tail would be strong.
Punjab opted to do without the services of the all-rounder Manpreet Singh Grewal whose reckless shot making cost his team the game against Bengal in Bilaspur.
With seven points from three matches, Punjab has had an up and down run so far, and would be keen to assert itself against a quality team which had managed to collect only two points so far from the two matches.
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