The game between Assam and UP was especially intriguingly poised, while Railways responded well to Maharashtra's big first-innings total. © Wisden India

The game between Assam and UP was especially intriguingly poised, while Railways responded well to Maharashtra’s big first-innings total. © Wisden India

Assam and Uttar Pradesh were involved in a tense battle for the first-innings lead, while Maharashtra posted a big total against Railways in Group A action in the Ranji Trophy 2017-18 on Friday (November 10). As for individual milestones, Rohit Motwani, the Maharashtra batsman, made his highest first-class score with a 328-ball 189.

Maharashtra v Railways in Pune
Motwani’s fourth first-class century powered Maharashtra to a big first-innings score of 481 before the Railways batsmen started well at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

At stumps, Railways were 88 for no loss, trailing Maharashtra by 383, with Saurabh Wakaskar (32) and Shivakant Shukla (47) batting out 24 overs without any damage.

Maharashtra started the day on 249 for 5 and nearly doubled it thanks to Motwani’s marathon knock. The No. 6 batsman resumed on 52 and went on to get his highest first-class score, powering Maharashtra with vital partnerships with the lower order. These included a 94-run stand for the eighth wicket with Mukesh Choudhary, where the latter contributed only 25 off 75 balls.

Even after Choudhary fell with the total on 381, Motwani added two more 50-run stands with Pradeep Dadhe and Samad Fallah, the No. 10 and No. 11 respectively. Motwani ultimately became the last batsman to fall, missing out on a maiden double-century by 11 runs. His knock included 24 fours and three sixes.

Amit Mishra and Karan Thakar, the Railways pacers, bagged four wickets each.

Wakaskar and Shukla then started strongly with an unbroken stand and ensured Maharashtra wouldn’t press home the advantage with quick wickets.

Assam v Uttar Pradesh in Guwahati
Half-centuries from Sibsankar Roy (72) and Rishav Das (52) and contributions from Amit Sinha (48) and Swarupam Purkayastha (34 not out) helped Assam get close to UP’s first-innings total at Barsapara Cricket Stadium.

At stumps, Assam were 279 for 6, trailing UP by 70 runs. Saurabh Kumar, the left-arm spinner, picked up four of the six wickets to fall.

After bowling UP out for 349 on the first day, Assam started the second day on 25 without loss. Rishav and Rahul Hazarika, the openers, added 79 for the opening wicket before the former fell a 56-ball innings, which had nine fours. Soon, Hazarika too fell caught and bowled by Saurabh for 28 leaving Assam 98 for 2.

From there, Assam struggled for big partnerships but small contributions kept them in the hunt. Their best partnership came for the fifth wicket when Roy and Sinha added 83, but Saurabh accounted for both in successive overs to leave Assam 237 for 6.

Pallav Kumar Das (10 not out) and Purkayastha, the No. 7 and No. 8 respectively, ensured UP didn’t run through the lower order. The two remained stubborn and batted nearly 23 overs for an unbroken 42-run stand to ensure the race for the first-innings lead would extend to the third day.

Karnataka v Delhi in Alur
Stuart Binny’s brutal 118 that followed another big knock from Mayank Agarwal helped Karnataka post a mammoth total of 649, before Delhi ended the day on 20 without loss. Full report