Pankaj, Rituraj share 8 wickets as Raj bowl out MP for 256

Pacers Pankaj Singh and RiturajSingh shared eight wickets between them as Rajasthan restricted Madhya Pradesh to 256 all out on the opening day of their Group A Ranji Trophy match, here today.

The visitors hit back by reducing the hosts to seven for one at close on an eventful day at the K L Saini Stadium in Mansarovar.

Madhya Pradesh skipper Devendra Bundela (53), Rameez Khan (54) and Anand Rajan (45) batted resolutely but other batsmen did not show enough stomach for fight.

Pankaj (4/63) and Ruturaj (4/68) were the pick of the bowlers while left-arm medium fast Aniket Choudhary also chipped in with two wickets (2/78).

Invited to bat first after Rajasthan won the toss, Madhya Pradesh were left reeling at 31 for four as Rituraj produced a hostile spell of fast bowling to get rid of openers, Naman Ojha (5) and Zafar Ali (14), and Satyam Choudhary (6). Aniket cleaned up Udit Birla (0) to send shockwaves in rival's camp.

Bundela held one end together and stitched two vital partnerships with Anand Singh (18) and Jalaj Saxena (3). He first added 40 runs with Anand for the fifth-wicket and then went on to add another 46 runs for the sixth-wicket with Jalaj to somewhat steady the ship.

While Anand became Rituraj's fourth victim, Jalaj was snapped up by Aniket who got through his defense.

In the process, Bundela completed his half-century with the help of eight fours but perished soon after putting his team past 150-run mark.

At 150 for 7, Madhya Pradesh's sagging fortunes were revived by Rameez Khan and, in the company of Anand, put on a fighting 88-run partnership for the eighth wicket to frustrate the host bowlers.

The hosts took the second new ball after 80 overs and the move paid rich dividends.

Pankaj mopped up the tail without much fuss. In reply, Rajasthan lost the wicket of opener Ankit Lamba for five.

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