Smit Patel had Hyderabad running to, if not for cover. That corner of the field seemed his favourite, as he flayed most of the 14 boundaries there for his maiden century, as Gujarat closed day one at a commanding 254 for two at the Sardar Patel Stadium on Saturday.
If it was the under-19 World Cup winning squad member’s opening season in the Ranji Trophy, the measure of his poise and confidence could be gauged by the two successive boundaries, again to cover, that brought up his career’s first major milestone.
His stay at the crease stretched to nearly six hours and he found the fence 15 times. The lone lapse in his concentration led to his exit, caught behind off Anwar Khan.
Hyderabad, after spending two minutes in silence remembering its late opener Shahid Akbar, chose to field. It’s seven-pronged attack didn’t make much of a dent on Gujarat’s openers, Patel and Samit Gohel, who posted their half-centuries off successive deliveries in that order, steering their side to a sedate 111 without loss at lunch.
The openers seemed well entrenched, the switching of bowlers doing little to rattle them. The pitch packed enough bounce and carry with speedsters Ashish Reddy, Anwar Khan and M.A. Khader unleashing the odd snorter, almost all of them sailing out of harm’s way.
It took a spinner to separate the opening pair in the middle. Gohel was foxed by Lalith Mohan’s quicker one, which rose sharply, extracting an edge en route to stumper Abhinav Kumar’s gloves. In his opening duet with Smit, worth 163 and spanning about three and three quarter hours, Gohel had contributed 85, containing 14 hits to the ropes.
Hyderabad’s attack put in its bit of toil but was often found wanting when bowling to the fields set. That the line was predictable became evident with Gujarat’s batsmen indulging in inside-out strokes.
Gujarat — 1st innings: Smit Patel c Abhinav Kumar b Anwar Khan 114, Samit Gohel c Abhinav b Lalith 85, Bhargav Meherai (batting) 45, Krunal Patel (batting) 2, Extras (lb-1, nb-7): 8; Total (for two wkts. in 90 overs): 254.
Fall of wickets: 1-163, 2-260.
Hyderabad bowling: Ashish Reddy 15-4-46-0, Anwar Khan 11-7-18-1, M.A. Khader 12-1-37-0, G.H. Vihari 10-2-26-0, Lalith Mohan 22-3-61-1, S.A. Quadri 15-1-52-0, B. Sandeep 5-0-13-0.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy