Shillong, Jan 17: Meghalaya were made to slog in the field after Bihar racked up 329/6 on the first day of their Ranji Trophy Plate Group semifinal at the MCA Ground here today.
Bipin Saurabh (177) and Sachin Kumar Singh (75) made the hosts pay for a few dropped catches by amassing the most runs for Bihar. This was Saurabh’s second first-class century and his highest score; his first ton also came against Meghalaya in the round robin stage last month.
Meghalaya had won that match and they started positively today morning after winning the toss and choosing to field first.
Rohit Shah took a sharp catch at short leg in his debut Ranji match to give Akash K Choudhury (1/55) the first wicket of the day. Abhishek Kumar (2/78) then bagged the second, with the umpire taking his time before giving Basukinath out lbw.
At this stage Bihar were 14/2 but the story changed dramatically after that.
Sachin had made a half-century against Meghalaya last month and he and Saurabh took to the bowlers once again. They struck a number of boundaries – Sachin hit 14 fours and Saurabh 12 fours and 11 sixes, several of which flew outside the ground.
Both had extra lives thanks to the dropped catches, some of them off difficult chances and others mundane. Sachin brought up his fifty with a spanking drive through cover, while Saurabh reached triple figures with a massive six.
The pair, who put on 143 for the third wicket, were going at nearly seven runs an over before Sachin was bowled by left-arm orthodox bowler Arbin Singh (3/79). Following this the run rate came down but Bihar continued to enjoy the batting conditions, with Sakibul Gani coming in and making 43 in a 119-run stand with Saurabh. Gani was caught behind by wicketkeeper Punit Bisht off Arbin’s bowling and Kumar finally got Saurabh out caught by Choudhury.
Bad light brought play to an early conclusion and Meghalaya will now have to try and dismiss the remaining Bihar batters as soon as possible tomorrow morning before they set about trying to match the visitors’ already impressive first innings score.
(Meghalaya Cricket Association photo. Arbin Singh (right) is congratulated on getting a wicket)