Orissa take lead, consolidate position
Orissa secured the first innings lead after a grim tussle and then bowled their way into a winning position at stumps on the fourth day of their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Madhya Pradesh at the Captain Roop Singh stadium in Gwalior on Sunday. After gaining a first innings lead of 42 runs, Orissa dismissed six MP batsmen for 153 by close of play.
The keen duel for the lead was the highlight of the penultimate day's play. Orissa seemed to be better placed to take the lead when they resumed in the morning, having made 369 for five in reply to MP's 437. But they suffered an early blow when they lost Rashmi Ranjan Parida early. Resuming on 159, Parida was leg before to HS Sodhi for 162. In a stay of 505 minutes at the crease, Parida faced 372 balls and hit 19 of them past the ropes. Then in one over Jai P Yadav put MP in the favourites circle by dismissing both P Jai Chandra (40) and RR Das (7). At this stage Orissa were 386 for eight, still 51 runs behind the MP first innings total.
Wicketkeeper Gautam Gopal and Jagannath Das came together and they proceeded to bring Orissa back in the game with some purposeful batting. Amidst a lot of tension and excitement, they took Orissa past the MP total. Finally, after the two had added 82 runs for the ninth wicket off 36.4 overs, Das gave former India leg spinner Narendra Hirwani a return catch. Das batted 2-1/2 hours, faced 113 balls and hit two fours. The innings did not last long thereafter but Gopal remained unbeaten with 63. He batted 155 minutes, faced 123 balls and hit four boundaries and two sixes. Hirwani and Yadav finished with three wickets for 121 and 112 runs respectively.
A dispirited MP side put up a poor show in their second innings. They lost three wickets for 51 before a fourth wicket partnership of 81 runs off 17.2 overs between Abbas Ali (37) and Jai P Yadav (46) pulled their total into the realms of respectibility. However towards the end, MP lost three quick wickets and at close of play, were ahead by only 111 runs with four wickets in hand.