Rahane hits century on return to Ranji Trophy, keeps himself in India contention | Cricket News

AHMEDABAD: His Test career at stake, beleaguered India batter Ajinkya Rahane compiled a much-needed century to keep himself in India reckoning while guiding Mumbai to 263 for three against Saurashtra in their Ranji Trophy opener here on Thursday.
Choosing to bat after winning the toss, Mumbai were also boosted by Sarfaraz Khan’s unbeaten 121 off 219 balls on the first day of their elite group D match.
The focus was, however, firmly on Rahane who ended the day at an unbeaten 108 from 250 deliveries.
The 33-year-old Rahane, who had a mediocre Test series against South Africa in the recently concluded tour of the Rainbow Nation, got to his ton in 212 balls, hitting 14 fours and 2 sixes along the way.
The senior batter had managed just 136 runs in six innings in India’s 1-2 defeat in the Test series in South Africa earlier this year.
With the Test series against Sri Lanka set to be played from the first week of March after the T20s starting February 24, this century will provide the confidence that he needs and could ensure that he retains his place in the Indian team.
Another struggling India veteran, Cheteshwar Pujara, who is playing against Rahane in this match, will also look to get a big knock in the game to ensure the national selectors retain him for the series against Sri Lanka.
With new ball bowlers Jaydev Unadkat and Chetan Sakariya operating well, Mumbai found themselves in trouble early on, losing openers Aakarshit Gomel (8) and Prithvi Shaw (1) with just 22 runs on the board.
First-change Chirag Jani had Sachin Yadav trapped in front of the wicket as Mumbai slipped to 44 for three.
However, Saurashtra failed to make any more inroads after that as Rahane and Khan added 219 runs for the fourth wicket to put their side in a comfortable position at stumps.
Rahane took his time before starting to play freely and got to his 36th first-class hundred in 212 balls.
The former India Test vice-captain got to 99 with a big six against left-arm spinner Dharmandrasinh Jadeja, before getting to the three-figure mark with a single.
Rahane’s 479 Test runs in 2021 came at an average of 20.82, leading to his sacking from the vice-captain’s post ahead of the tour of South Africa.
Brief scores:
Mumbai: 263/3 in 87 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 108 batting, Sarfaraz Khan 121 batting) vs Saurashtra.
Goa: 181 all out in 64 overs (Eknath Kerkar 76; Basant Mohanty 3/27) vs Odisha 23/3 in 13.2 overs (Lakshay Garg 2/9).

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