March 26, 2001

Orissa trounce MP by seven wickets, gatecrash into Ranji semis

Staff Reporter

An Orissa team sans Shiv Sunder Das and Debashis Mohanty reached their first ever Ranji Trophy semifinal with a seven wicket triumph over hosts Madhya Pradesh at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium in Gwalior on Monday. Chasing a target of 192 in a minimum of 75 overs, Orissa lost three quick wickets but an unbroken century stand between Rashmi Ranjan Parida and Pravanjan Mullick helped them cruise to victory with more than ten overs to spare. In a semifinal encounter from April 5-9, Orissa will challenge four time Ranji Trophy champions Baroda for a place in the Ranji Trophy final.

Madhya Pradesh began their second innings on the fifth morning at 153/6, leading by 111 with four wickets in hand. The unbroken seventh wicket partnership between wicket keeper Ankit Sriwastava and skipper Chandrakant Pandit swelled to 64 before the former gave seam bowler Mullick his third wicket. Pandit stuck around for a little longer, top scoring with precisely 50 (58 balls, 6 fours), before being stumped by G Gopal off leg spinner Jagannath Das.

Trailing by 42 on the first innings, Madhya Pradesh's only hope lay in forcing an outright victory. Pandit closed shutters on 233/9 at the fall of Rajesh Chauhan to give his four man spin attack an opportunity to bowl out Orissa on a fifth day wicket. MP made their intentions clear, opening the bowling with off spinner Chauhan and leg spinner Narendra Hirwani.

Orissa openers PK Das and Suresh Kumar adopted an ultra-cautious approach which failed to yield dividends as both fell in successive overs to Chauhan and Hirwani respectively, leaving the score at 26/2 in the 20th over. Soon Orissa slumped to 52/3 as skipper Sanjay Raul fell to Hirwani and at that moment their thoughts must have focused on saving the match rather than taking up the gauntlet and winning outright.

But Parida and Mullick, with contrasting half centuries, fashioned a remarkable 140 run stand in 33.1 overs which turned the course of the match. Parida followed up his first innings 162 with a tenacious 64 (150 balls, 9 fours). Mullick on the other hand made a positively exuberant 74 in just 86 balls, slamming seven boundaries and two sixes. Pandit rang in the bowling changes using off spinner Abbas Ali and leg spinner Yogesh Golwalkar as well as belatedly bringing on his new ball bowlers Harvinder Sodhi and Devender Bundela. But all his manipulation was to no avail as Orissa coasted home.