New Delhi: The 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season began on Friday with as many as 12 matches getting underway all over the country.
The first big match of the started at the Eden Gardens with defending champion putting host Bengal in to bat. Pankaj Singh grabbed the ooportunity up front to strike twice in quick succession.
The Bengal team will be looking up to skipper and India hopeful Manoj Tiwary to power a good reply at home.
Sachin Tendulkar returned to the Ranji turfs after as Mumbai went in to bat first against Railways at home. Led by Ajit Agarkar, the Mumbai team is packed with India and Test hopefuls like Zaheer Khan and Rohit Sharma. It also has Ajinkya Rahane and the talented Abhishek Nayar.
Playing in Mohali, Hyderabad got off to a good, but slow, start against Punjab. WHile Hyderabad is being led by the just-retired VVS Laxman and has India spinner Pragyan Ojha too, PUnjab is being by Harbhajan Singh.
Anothe match that is being keenly monitored by the selectors and MS Dhoni is the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh tie in Ghaziabad.
Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag need to hit form, for their's, and India's sake against England. Batting first on Friday, though, both of them failed to notch up a score that encourage them. While Gambhir fell for 32, Sehwag was scalped by Praveen Kumar for 25. Virat Kohli joined Unmukt Chand at No. 4, but even he made just 14 before the session was wrapped for lunch.