Ranji Trophy 2018-19 January 10, 2019

Kerala pip Himachal in race to knockouts, Punjab, Bengal miss out

Sanju Samson celebrates his hundred © Associated Press

Kerala's dash to the finish line

A stirring fourth-innings chase by Kerala handed them a victory against Himachal Pradesh and six points, vaulting the team into the Ranji Trophy 2018-19 quarter-finals. Kerala will join Vidarbha, Saurashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the quarter-finals.

The identity of the teams that eventually qualified depended largely on two games on the final day of the league phase: Kerala's match against Himachal, and Punjab's game against Bengal.

Himachal declared on their overnight 285 for 8, setting Kerala a target of 297 at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Stadium in Nadaun. Kerala responded brilliantly, getting to 299 for 5 in 67 overs. Vinoop Manoharan, who was promoted to open the innings, hit 96 off 143 to set the chase on track. There was a brief wobble when Manoharan and Mohammed Azharuddeen fell in quick succession, but an 88-run stand for the fifth wicket off 104 balls between captain Sachin Baby (92 off 134) and Sanju Samson (61* off 53) put Kerala on the brink of victory. Himachal had declared, having scored rapidly in their second innings, because they too were chasing victory to progress to the knockouts.

However, Kerala won the race, and now have 26 points to show, level with Gujarat and Baroda, but ahead on quotient. Gujarat edged out Baroda in turn due to a higher quotient, and thus booked their place in the knockouts.

Shahbaz Nadeem took three of Gujarat's four wickets © Sunny Shinde

An inconsequential draw

Either of Bengal or Punjab could have upset the equations if their match had ended in an outright result, but despite a valiant chase by Punjab, it produced a draw. Punjab had taken a stranglehold early in the match, replying to Bengal's 187 with 447. Bengal, however, showed plenty of spunk in their 432 for 6 declared in the second innings. Abhimanyu Easwaran ended a superb season with 201 not-out, his first double-hundred, while captain Manoj Tiwary made 105 as Bengal ensured they would stave off defeat. Tiwary then gave Punjab 16 overs to chase 173. In a surprise move, fast bowler Manpreet Gony was promoted to No. 3 and he smashed 58 off 28, but with Punjab 132 for 5 in 15 overs, the teams shook hands. It was Gony's second half-century in the match, following a career-best 69 not-out in the first innings.

While Bengal did emerge with an honourable draw, what both teams needed was an outright win - and denied that, neither could finish in the top five of the combined A and B groups to qualify for the knockouts.

Manoj Tiwary gazes into the distance © PTI

The Jharkhand heartbreak
Despite the entire first day being washed out at the Gandhi Memorial Science College Ground in Jammu, Jharkhand beat Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) by an innings and 48 runs. Saurabh Tiwary's 134 led their batting effort, while Shahbaz Nadeem starred with the ball once again, taking 4 for 43 as J&K were bowled out for 120 on the final day. The win took Jharkhand to 40 points, just behind Uttar Pradesh, who went through with 41 points.

Jharkhand were badly hit by the previous round, when Tripura's dawdle meant only 22 overs were bowled in an extended final session, stopping Jharkhand at 144 for 7 when set 153 to win. That left Jharkhand with only three points for a first-innings lead, when a win would have given them six points.

Punjab, too, will look back on this season as one of near-misses. In their first match, they replied to Andhra's 423 with 414, missing out on a first-innings lead by just ten runs. Later on, Hyderabad made 317, and Punjab were bowled out for 303 in reply. They still had perhaps the most exciting chase of the season, finishing on 324 for 8 when set 338 to win, led by an inspired century from Shubman Gill. Then came another near-miss in the final league game. They were similarly affected in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in September-October 2018, having to share points with Goa after piling on 359 for 4 and reducing Goa to 46 for 2 in ten overs before rain arrived, a result that materially affected their chances of making the quarter-finals.

Brief Scores


Groups A & B

Saurashtra 356 (Harvik Desai 74, Sheldon Jackson 65, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 72, Suniket Bingewar 3-68, Yash Thakur 4-92) & 218/2d (Vishvaraj Jadeja 105*, Sheldon Jackson 53*) drew with Vidarbha 280/9d (Wasim Jaffer 98, Mohit Kale 66, Jaydev Unadkat 6-56) in Rajkot.
Saurashtra 3 points, Vidarbha 1 point

Andhra 132 (Ishwar Pandey 4-43, Gaurav Yadav 3-21, Kumar Kartikeya 3-23) & 301 (Karan Shinde 103*, Ishwar Pandey 3-55) beat Madhya Pradesh 91 (Girinath Reddy 6-29) & 35 (DP Vijaykumar 3-17, KV Sasikanth 6-18) by 307 runs in Indore.
Andhra 6 points, Madhya Pradesh 0 points

Baroda 223 (Vishnu Solanki 69, Deepak Hooda 51, Shubhang Hegde 4-74, Shreyas Gopal 4-47) & 110/8 (Yusuf Pathan 41, Prasidh Krishna 3-14) beat Karnataka 112 (Manish Pandey 43, Lukman Meriwala 3-22, Bhargav Bhatt 3-27) & 220 (KV Siddharth 64, Manish Pandey 50, Bhargav Bhatt 5-116, Deepak Hooda 5-31) by two wickets in Vadodara.
Baroda 6 points, Karnataka 0 points

Bengal 187 (Sudip Chatterjee 52, Shreevats Goswami 57, Vinay Choudhary 6-62) & 432/6d (Abhimanyu Easwaran 201*, Manoj Tiwary 105, Mayank Markande 3-123) drew with Punjab 447 (Shubman Gill 91, Anmolpreet Singh 126, Manpreet Gony 69*, Mukesh Kumar 5-114, Pradipta Pramanik 4-108) & 132/5 (Manpreet Gony 58) in Kolkata.
Punjab 3 points, Bengal 1 point

Mumbai 188 (Vikran Auti 43, Suryakumar Yadav 43, Pankaj Rao 3-53) & 92/1 (Jay Bista 49*) beat Chhattisgarh 129 (Amandeep Khare 48, Shardul Thakur 4-32, Tushar Deshpande 5-46) & 149 (Vishal Kushwah 47, Tushar Deshpande 4-53, Shardul Thakur 4-47) by nine wickets in Mumbai.
Mumbai 6 points, Chhattisgarh 0 points

Tamil Nadu 432 (Abhinav Mukund 134, B Indrajith 86, P Ranjan Paul 78, Shahrukh Khan 55, Vikas Mishra 5-142, Shivam Sharma 4-105) & 113/1d (N Jagadeesan 59*) drew with Delhi 336 (Jonty Sidhu 140*, Lalit Yadav 91, Sai Kishore 5-90) in Chennai.
Tamil Nadu 3 points, Delhi 1 point

Kerala 286 (P Rahul 127, Sanju Samson 50, Rishi Dhawan 3-68, Arpit Guleria 5-47) & 299/5 (V Manoharan 96, Sachin Baby 92, Sanju Samson 61*) beat Himachal Pradesh 297 (Ankit Kalsi 101, Raghav Dhawan 58, MD Nidheesh 6-88) & 285/8d (Ankit Kalsi 64, Rishi Dhawan 85, Sijomon Joseph 4-51) by five wickets in Nadaun.
Kerala 6 points, Himachal Pradesh 0 points

Railways 259 (Mahesh Rawat 89, Satyajeet Bachhav 8-108) beat Maharashtra 70 (Avinash Yadav 4-38) & 131 (Avinash Yadav 5-71, Harsh Tyagi 4-29) by an innings and 58 runs in Delhi.
Railways 7 points, Maharashtra 0 points

Group C

Uttar Pradesh 619 (Akshdeep Nath 81, Rinku Singh 149, Upendra Yadav 138, Ranji Mali 4-127) drew with Assam 175 (Pallav Das 75, Yash Dayal 3-15, Saurabh Kumar 3-25) & 317/4 (Rahul Hazarika 63, Gokul Sharma 100*, Swarupam Purkayastha 67) in Kanpur.
Uttar Pradesh 3 points, Assam 1 point

Odisha 352 (Sandeep Pattnaik 100, Shantanu Mishra 59, Suryakant Pradhan 65, Lakshay Garg 3-87, Amogh Desai 3-77) & 151 (Sujit Lenka 39, Krishna Das 4-57, Lakshay Garg 5-75) beat Goa 116 (Sagun Kamat 43, Rajesh Mohanty 3-52, Suryakant Pradhan 5-48) & 111 (Amogh Desai 28, Basant Mohanty 4-21, Rajesh Mohanty 5-49) by 276 runs in Cuttack.
Odisha 6 points, Goa 0 points

Haryana 149 (Shubham Rohillla 64, Arun Bamal 7-42) & 104/4 (Ankit Kumar 72*, Navneet Singh 3-22) beat Services 170 (Vikas Hathwala 54, Tinu Kundu 6-60, Amit Rana 4-55) & 79 (Diwesh Pathania 25, Tinu Kundu 5-35, Amit Rana 4-24) by six wickets in Lahli.
Haryana 6 points, Services 0 points

Jharkhand 319/9d (Kumar Deobrat 74, Saurabh Tiwary 134, Rasikh Salam 3-47, Parvez Rasool 4-98) beat Jammu and Kashmir 151 (Owais Shah 76, Ajay Yadav 5-16, Anukul Roy 3-27) & 120 (Rasikh Salam 40, Shahbaz Nadeem 4-43, Anukul Roy 3-42) by an innings and 48 runs in Jammu.
Jharkhand 7 points, J&K 0 points

Rajasthan 218 (Aniket Choudhary 30*, Tanvir Ul-Haq 37, MB Murasingh 4-75) beat Tripura 35 (Aniket Choudhary 5-11, Tanvir Ul-Haq 3-1) & 106 (Harmeet Singh 29, Deepak Chahar 5-17) by an innings and 77 runs in Agartala.
Rajasthan 7 points, Tripura 0 points

Plate Group

Uttarkhand 377 (Saurabh Rawat 102, Rajat Bhatia 84, Malolan Rangarajan 58) beat Mizoram 198 (Taruwar Kohli 96*, Dhanraj Sharma 3-49) & 123 (Taruwar Kohli 68*, Mayank Mishra 3-29, Rajat Bhatia 4-17) by an innings and 56 runs in Dehradun.
Uttarakhand 7 points, Mizoram 0 points

Nagaland 467 (Nitesh Lohchab 100, Hokaito Zhimomi 177, R Jonathan 123, Pankaj Singh 3-118, Raiphi Gomez 3-59) & 222/6 (Hokaito Zhimomi 63*, Abrar Kazi 60, Pankaj Singh 3-61) drew with Puducherry 286 (S Karthik 81, Paras Dogra 144, Abrar Kazi 4-62, Imliwati Lemtur 3-57) & 208/3 (S Karthik 55, M Viknesh 64, Paras Dogra 50*) in Sovima.
Nagaland 3 points, Puducherry 1 point

Sikkim 262 (Milind Kumar 51, Lee Yong Lepcha 58*, Deendyal Upadhyay 4-96) & 19/0 beat Arunachal Pradesh 169 (Kshitiz Sharma 59, Ishwar Chaudhary 3-55, Milind Kumar 5-42) & 109 (Kshitiz Sharma 31, Ishwar Chaudhary 7-51) by 10 wickets in Goalpara.
Sikkim 7 points, Arunachal Pradesh 0 points

Bihar 257 (Vivek Kumar 40, Bishworjit Konthoujam 5-74, Priyojit Singh 5-74) & 140/7 (Mangal Mahrour 53, Vikash Ranjan 39, Bishworjit Konthoujam 3-33) beat Manipur 156 (Mayank Raghav 79, Ashutosh Aman 4-39, Samar Quadri 5-49) & 238 (Yashpal Singh 105, Priyojit Singh 64, Ashutosh Aman 7-71, Samar Quadri 3-93) by three wickets in Patna.
Bihar 6 points, Manipur 0 points

Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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