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    Ranji Trophy: Rayudu, Chouhan drive Baroda to 252 for 3

    Delhi: Baroda's fourth-wicket pair of Abhimanyu Chouhan and Ambati Rayadu drove the visitors into a strong position by stumps on day one of their Group B Ranji Trophy match against Delhi at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday. Rayudu was the dominant partner in 143-run stand, hitting 83 off 146 balls with 13 fours. Chouhan, coming off a century against Vidarbha in the second round, was batting on 82 off 196 balls at the close. Baroda, without regular captain Yusuf Pathan, were put in to bat and lost their first wicket at 46 when the debutant Saurabh Wakaskar (22) gave an easy catch to Parvinder Awana at midwicket off the bowling of Sumit Narwal. Chouhan and Aditya Waghmode steadied the ship and took Baroda to 92 for 1 at lunch. Just after the interval, veteran Rajat Bhatia gave Delhi a breakthrough when he picked up Waghmode for a solid 54, with Mohit Sharma holding a blinder at first slip. Eight runs later, Bhatia removed Rakesh Solanki for 0 when Sharma held another catch. Rayadu – named captain once Yusuf was ruled out with a finger injury - took control of the game with some aggressive shots and found able assistance from the in-form Chouhan. Delhi’s attack featured four pace bowlers in Awana, Narwal, Bhatia, Pawan Suyal and Ashish Nehra,b but none of them were able to remove either Rayadu or Chouhan. “The wicket is not good at all, the balls are coming very low, and it is not a good Ranji wicket,” said Rayudu after stumps. The talking point of the first day was Nehra’s fitness. Though he did not pick up an on-field injury, Nehra was way below of standard and bowled only six overs before he left the field for the rest of the day. “Nehra got a hamstring injury; he was perfectly fine before the match. It happens but I am happy with the total effort made by the boys. I wish we could get one more wicket but I will take that,” said Vijay Dahiya, the Delhi coach.