Opener Mayank Agarwal continued his rich vein of form with a cracking 161 as India Blue batsmen were engaged in a run-feast scoring 336 for 3 against ‘Green’ on the first day of the virtual “semi-final’ clash of the Duleep Trophy.
Agarwal, who had scored 92 in the earlier game, made no mistake as he scored his second first-class century. He faced 218 balls hitting 21 boundaries and a six off Pragyan Ojha.
Veteran opener Gautam Gambhir called it right at the toss and did not hesitate to make first use of a placid wicket with nothing much in it for the bowlers.
Having added 151 for the first wicket in the earlier rain-truncated encounter against the Reds, Gambhir and Agarwal were a notch better against an insipid ‘Green’ attack adding 212 runs for the opening stand.
The veteran India discard missed out on a well-deserved hundred as he was run-out having scored a sedate 90 off 193 balls with 10 boundaries.
In fact the soon-to-be 35 Gambir dropped anchor at one end letting right-handed Agarwal take the attack to the opposition camp with some lovely shots through off-side cordon.
Such was the domination that save Jasprit Bumrah’s inswinger which had Agarwal adjudged leg before for 9 only to find that the bowler had overstepped, there was not much to cheer for the Suresh Raina led side as the bowlers apart from Ashok Dinda (1/54 in 13 overs) failed to make a single breakthrough.
Even Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara, playing his first pink ball match looked comfortable during his unbeaten 63 with 13 fours as he added 103 runs for the second wicket with Agarwal before the Karnataka opener perished at backward square leg off Dinda’s bowling.
Siddhesh Lad (1) was the only batsman, who failed on a day that certainly did not belong to the bowlers.
The day however belonged to 25-year-old Agarwal, who was again at his best when he was driving on the up against the pacers. Most of his 21 boundaries — irrespective of pacers or spinners, were hit through the cover and cover point region, which he repeatedly bisected with ease.
The hundred came by pulling a long-hop from leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal. The only six off Ojha was hit over long-on.
Gambhir, played shots on both sides of the wicket and was especially severe on the spinners hitting them through cover as well deep mid-wicket region. Anything outside off-stump or onto his pads were punished equally.
With no help from the surface, it became difficult for the Green team bowlers as Raina employed as many as six bowlers.
Limited overs specialist Jasprit Bumrah (1/61 in 15 overs) bowled too many loose deliveries and was also guilty of over-stepping. Dinda was also inconsistent while Rajpoot drifted on the pads.
The spin troika of Gopal (0/70 in 17 overs), Ojha (0/75 in 18 overs) and off-spinner Jalaj Saxena (0/45 in 19 overs) failed to bowl wicket-taking deliveries.
Brief Scores: India Blue 1st Innings 336/3 in 90 overs (Mayank Agarwal 161, Gautam Gambhir 90, Cheteshwar Pujara 63 batting) vs India Green. Match to continue.
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