Ambati Rayudu’s well-constructed 97 and a telling spell with the old ball by paceman A. Mithun were the highlights of the opening day of the Buchi Babu semifinal between Hyderabad XI and Karnataka XI at the IC-Guru Nanak ground here on Tuesday. Hyderabad, electing to bat, was dismissed for 246.

It was a creditable bowling effort by the Karnataka bowlers on a pitch favouring the batsmen.

The lanky Mithun extracted bounce from a high-arm action and bowled a good line around the off-stump. He was lively and hit the bat hard; on those occasions when the ball missed the willow, it carried well to the ’keeper. Mithun finished with three for 42 from 16.3 overs.

Responsible effort

Inside-edging an attempted cut off Mithun on to his stumps, Rayudu missed a century by a whisker; he had been reprieved at first slip in the same over. Otherwise, his 164-ball 97 (6x4, 1x6) was a responsible effort at the No. 3 slot. He worked the ball around for the ones and the twos and drove pleasingly on either side of the pitch.

Opener T. Suman (28) promised much before jumping out to off-spinner Udit Patel for Thilak Naidu to effect a stumping. The Hyderabad innings revolved around the 98-run partnership for the third wicket in 27 overs between Rayudu and Benjamin Thomas (47).

Karnataka came back well. Thomas was trapped leg-before by leggie Amit Varma and wickets fell in regular succession. Left-armers, paceman S. Aravind and spinner K.P. Apanna, were steady while Mithun was the cynosure.

Sharma scores century

In the other semifinal at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, a strokeful hundred by Deepak Sharma (101) helped Assam overcome a poor start and set Combined Districts a target of 268 runs.

Paceman Jesuraj scalped four.

Sharma combined with Abhijit Sinha Roy (96) to add 155 runs for the fourth wicket, taking the score to respectability from a dicey 14 for three. Sharma 154-ball innings was studded with 11 hits to the fence, and one towering hit beyond long on off left-arm spinner Aushik Srinivasan.

The beneficiary of a number of reprieves — on 32 (missed stumping) and 67 (dropped in the slips) — Roy’s luck caught up with him after he had slaved for 254 balls for his 96. He finally departed going for a quick single when Jesuraj collected the ball in his follow through and threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end in the 87th over.

Poor start

Earlier, electing to bat, Assam lost opener Chandan Rawat for a duck on the fourth ball of the innings when the right-hander edged Jesuraj to slip.

Two more quick wickets found the visitors in a hole, setting the scene perfectly for Sharma and Roy to begin their salvage act.

Jesuraj was the pick of the bowlers for Combined Districts, collecting four wickets for 56 runs. Paceman M.K. Shivakumar and left-arm spinner C. Suresh claimed two wickets apiece.

The scores (Semifinals): Hyderabad XI 246 in 84.3 overs (A.T. Rayudu 97, Benjamin Thomas 47) vs Karnataka XI eight without loss in three overs.

Assam 267 in 87.5 overs (Deepak Sharma 101, Abhijit Sinha Roy 96, R. Jesuraj four for 56) v Combined Districts.

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