Hyderabad: Gujarat’s Manpreet Juneja 94 (145b, 16×4, 1×6) and Rujul Bhatt 65 (134b, 4×4) defied a fighting Hyderabad side led by Mohammed Siraj (3/73) and Mehdi Hasan (4/78) as the visitors secured a vital 62-run first-innings lead in the second day of the Ranji Trophy Group A & B match at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.
Gujarat finished the day at 295/9 in 83.2 overs in response to Hyderabad’s 233 in the first innings. The hosts took four wickets in an absorbing morning session as Indian pacer Siraj and left-arm spinner Hasan reduced the visitors to 104/4 at the lunch break.
Earlier in the day, Siraj utilised the morning conditions. Swinging the ball both ways, the pace bowler got rid of the dangerous Gujarat skipper Priyank Panchal (5), who was trapped in front in his second over. Meanwhile, the second-wicket pair of opener Kethan D Patel (34) and Bhargav Merai (34) added 60 runs for the second wicket before Hasan broke the stand.
Hasan carried on his good run from the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy as he bowled on the right areas. He removed Indian spinners Axar Patel (6) and Piyush Chawla (0) off successive balls but by then Gujarat had gained a decent lead. Number 9 batsman Roosh Kalaria (21 batting) also hurt the hosts late in the day before umpires called it stumps but not before left-arm seamer CV Milind took the all-important wicket Rujul and Chintan Gaja (4) off the second new ball.
Manpreet, who is only the fourth Indian to score a double century on debut, missed out on a well-deserved hundred when substitute fielder Saketh Sairam pulled off a stunning diving catch to his left at third slip off Siraj. A visibly frustrated Manpreet left the ground in shock.
Hasan said that there was not much in the wicket for the spinners. “It was difficult to bowl especially when Manpreet and Rujul were batting well. The game is still open. If we can score quick runs tomorrow morning, we have a good chance to bounce back,” Hasan said.