Hyderabad were able to dismiss Meghalaya before lunch and then carved out a first innings lead with six wickets still in hand on the first day of their Ranji Trophy plate group match at the MCA Ground here today.
Meghalaya were rumbled for Nelson (111 runs) in 33.1 overs and at stumps Hyderabad were 182/4 in 47 overs, leading by 71.
The visitors felt that the pitch would provide a little help for bowlers early on and decided to field first after winning the toss.
Hyderabad are historically a strong team but a rather ordinary last season meant that they were relegated to the plate group for 2023-24. Their mission is to get back to the elite groups and they started today’s match well by claiming a wicket off the second delivery, with young Arien Bonchang Sangma feathering the ball into the gloves of the wicketkeeper off the bowling of CV Milind.
That set the tone for Meghalaya’s struggles, with the only home batter to find success being Kishan Lyngdoh. Fresh from having scored an historic double century against Arunachal Pradesh in the last match, Kishan demonstrated that he can take on the big teams too as he finished not out on 51 from 73 deliveries (8x4s).
He did have a lucky escape when he was dropped on 45 but by that time he was running out of partners and needed to shoulder more of the strike and the accompanying risk. The No. 5 brought up his fifty with a quick two deep on the leg side.
Meghalaya’s best partnership was for just 34 between Kishan and Tarique Siddique (12 from 32) for the fifth wicket. Other batters, like Jaskirat Singh Sachdeva (10 from 15) and Dippu Ch Sangma (13 from 8), played attacking shots in an attempt to break the spell of the Hyderabad bowlers but had only fleeting success.
The hosts’ biggest issue was the off spin of Saaketh, who claimed 4/33. Contrastingly, Meghalaya utilised pace more in Hyderabad’s first innings and it proved to work well at the beginning.
Ram Gurung (2/42) claimed a wicket in each of the first two overs he bowled from the tennis court end to leave Hyderabad in shock on 14/2, with Tarique and Arien taking good catches.
Fellow fast bowler Swarajeet Das (2/39) then had a chance put down in the slips but he did not have to wait long for his first wicket, with Adarsh Joshi pulling off a tough catch on the boundary rope from a shot that went high in the air.
By that stage Hyderabad were 43/3 and Meghalaya sensed that a couple more batters to fall might spell disaster for the visitors. However, a fine partnership by KR Rayudu (54 not out) and Chandan Sahani (52) took their team to safety and past the Meghalaya score. When Sahani was finally dismissed lbw to Swarajeet after tea, Hyderabad had reached 132.
Rayudu and Pragnay Reddy (32 not out) then added a further 50 before the end of play.
Earlier, the Meghalaya Cricket Association, as is its tradition, felicitated the match referee, umpires and the visiting team. There were especially warm words from MCA President Nababrata Bhattacharjee for the Hyderabad coach, DB Ravi Teja, who played as a guest professional for Meghalaya from 2019 until he retired as a cricketer at the end of the 2020-21 season, during which time he mentored many of the Meghalaya players in today’s squad.