The opening day of the Ranji season was special for ex-India player Sanjay Bangar as he scored a patient century to lead Railways to 242 for 4 on a wicket that required grafting.
At the end of the day, the former skipper was unbeaten on 111, constructed off 217 balls and embellished with 14 fours and two straight hits over the fence, one each on either side of the wicket.
The typical slow wicket at the Karnail Singh Stadium held little joy for the bowlers too. R Ashwin scalped two while Abhinav Mukund and Suresh Kumar picked one each.
Tamil Nadu skipper Dinesh Karthik, who flew in at the last-minute, wouldn’t be unhappy with the day’s gains though a wicket more might have tilted the balance their way.
Murali Kartik, the Railways skipper, looked a satisfied man though he said he would have preferred the loss of fewer wickets.
For a major part of the day, however, Bangar held everyone’s attention.
He walked in after the fall of Cheluvaraj’s wicket and stitched a valuable 80-run partnership with Faiz Fazal, an import from Vidarbha.
The left-handed Fazal looked in control for his 70 and played some delightful shots, including a lovely hook for four, before succumbing to a rush of blood.
In a bid to break the shackles, he came down the wicket to Ashwin in the 54th over, but missed the line and was stumped. TP Singh walked in and walked out after edging Ashwin to the slip cordon and it looked Railways would go off-track. But Bangar arrested the slide and together with Yere Goud, who played at a snail’s pace (14 off 100 balls), took his team past 200.
At stumps, S Sanyal was giving him company on six.