Hyderabad: Ankit Bawne struck a fine unbeaten 89 to put Maharashtra in a good position against six-time champions Karnataka on the first day of the Ranji Trophy cricket final at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal, here Wednesday.
Opting to bat, Maharashtra lost in-form opener Harshad Khadiwale (15) early but Khurana (64) played the role of sheet anchor to perfection for one and half sessions as they were able to conjure three 50 plus partnerships, which helped them put up a decent total on a slow Uppal track.
At stumps, Bawne was batting with Sangram Atitkar, who was unbeaten on 29 and they had put up 57 runs for the unfinished sixth-wicket stand to take Maharashtra to 272 for five.
It was an impressive batting performance by Maharashtra but there were phases when they were not allowed to get away freely. Bawne anchored the innings with a well composed unbeaten 89 and he enjoyed and flourished in the good company of Chirag Khurana (64) and Atitkar (29).
Bawne's undefeated knock of 89 comprised of 10 boundaries.
Maharashtra openers Chirag Khurana (64) and Harshad Khadiwale (15) adopted a wait and watch approach and took their own time.
But Karnataka captain and pacer Vinay Kumar tested the patience of the openers with his probing line and length. The pacer was finally rewarded as Khadiwale was the first to commit a mistake and was trapped leg-before-wicket.
India U-19 captain Vijay Zol (5), who was released from the U-19 World Cup camp for the match, failed to make the most of the opportunity and managed a thick edge off Sreenath Aravind to wicketkeeper Chidambaram Gautam.
With Maharashtra precariously placed at 42/2, Khurana and Kedar Jadhav (37) tried to rescue the innings but their 48-run stand was cut short by pacer Abhimanyu Mithun, who dismissed Jadhav.
Jadhav (37, 6x4) looked fluent during his short stay at the crease but was the victim of a poor decision by umpire Anil Chaudhary.
Abhimanyu Mithun was the most successful Karnataka bowler on Day one of the Ranji Trophy final against Maharashtra. File Pic
Khurana stood his ground and took 145 balls for his 64 while Bawne took 172 balls for his 89. The duo added 54 runs for the fourth wicket that provided some stability to the innings. Bawne was also involved in a valuable 57-run unfinished stand for the sixth wicket with Atitkar that kept alive hopes of a big Maharashtra score.
For Karnataka, Mithun was the most successful bowler taking two for 44 in 19 overs. Skipper Vinay Kumar (1/56 in 23 overs), Sreenath Aravind (1/62) and Karun Nair (1/21) were the other successful bowlers.
While Vinay gave a tough time to the Maharashtra batsman, Mithun was erratic with his line and length. But Mithun still did well to pick up two wickets and Maharashtra skipper Rohit Motwani (17) was his second victim.