Shillong, Dec 20: Ranji Trophy cricket returned to Shillong with Meghalaya performing well in the field on the first day of their plate group match against Sikkim at the MCA Ground in Polo as they bowled out their opponents for 140.

Unfortunately, the hosts then lost three wickets for 46 runs in their first innings when stumps were called, leaving them 94 runs behind Sikkim’s first innings total.

This is the first Ranji match in Shillong since the 2018-19 season and the MCA Ground has seen plenty of improvements since then, with a reoriented pitch, new grass varieties planted and modern dressing rooms. Play began with a winter chill in the air but the bright sunshine warmed things up and Sikkim had no hesitation in choosing to bat first after winning the toss.

Meghalaya started with left-arm orthodox spin from guest professional Rajesh Bishnoi at one end, with pace bowler Akash K Choudhary operating from the other. However, it was first change fast bowler Md Nafees (1/26) who broke the opening partnership, with Swarajeet Das scooping up a difficult low catch.

Bishnoi then slipped in a delivery to bowl Nilesh Lamichaney for 13 before Choudhary (3/48) claimed three wickets in a row. Bishnoi claimed a further three wickets, including two in two deliveries, to finish with figures of 4/28.

Dippu Ch Sangma (1/14) also took a wicket, with Choudhary taking a nice catch off a top edge that went high in the air. Sikkim, however, showed resistance, which saw them make 55 runs for the ninth wicket to rescue them from being on 81/8.

Number 10 Ankur (37) was eventually dismissed by Raj Biswa (1/4) in the only over he bowled, while Bishnoi finished things off by getting Palzor out for 22.

The hosts had difficulties of their own with the bat, however, losing three wickets for 28 on the board. Biswa was out for 14 at the top of the order, while Kishan Lyngdoh (5) and Sylvester Mylliempdah (1) did not spend too much time at the crease. At the close of play, Bamanbha Shangpliang (10 not out) and guest professional Punit Bisht (13 not out) had salvaged the innings, though there is still plenty more the batters will have to do on Day 2 tomorrow.

(Meghalaya Cricket Association photo. Meghalaya celebrate after Kishan Lyngdoh (right) takes a catch off the bowling of Akash K Choudhary (second left))

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