MOHALI/ INDORE (IANS): Karnataka skipper Vinay Kumar took five wickets, triggering a batting collapse that resulted in Punjab getting skittled out for 270 in their first innings on effectively the first day of the Ranji Trophy semifinal at the PCA Stadium, here on Sunday.
Meanwhile, in the other semifinal at Indore, middle-order batsman Sangram Atitkar compiled a solid 168 to help Maharashtra take a massive first-innings lead over Bengal and set the stage for what may come to be an innings victory. Atitkar's mega-ton enabled Maharastra to post a huge 455 in reply to Bengal's first innings 114.
Karnataka were 39 for two at stumps with Robin Uthappa (25) and Manish Pandey (8) at the crease. Not even a ball was bowled Saturday owing to intermittent rain. Punjab began well courtesy openers Jiwanjot Singh (74) and Manan Vohra (51), who shared a 85-run stand.
Yuvraj Singh (42 off 56 balls), who has lost his place in the Indian ODI team, looked in good touch but failed to post a big score. At 223 for three, Punjab were set for a decent first innings total. But Vinay Kumar led from the front and struck four times in quick succession to put his team back in the game. The hosts suddenly found themselves reeling at 239 for eight. Number eleven Jaskaran Singh (20) did well to take his team past 250.
Maharashtra took a firm grip on their semifinal against Bengal who were bowled out for 114 on day one. In reply, Maharashtra went on to post a big total, thanks to Atitkar's 168 off 228 balls. Ankit Bawne (89) and Anupam Sankecha (52) were the other main contributors.
Bengal were 16 for one in their second innings at close of play, trailing by 325 runs and facing an uphill task to avoid an outright defeat to the unheralded Maharashtra side, who are playing their first Ranji Trophy semifinal in 17 years.
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