Ranji Trophy 2003-04

Railways and Tamil Nadu hustle into semi-finals

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan

December 28, 2003

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Elite Championship Seventh Round
Points Table

Indian Railways 353 (TP Singh 114) and 103 beat Baroda 217 (Bhoite 55; Harvinder 5-40) and 182 (Khanolkar 5-21) by 57 runs

Indian Railways beat Baroda by 57 runs in the final league match to book themselves a place in the Ranji Trophy semi-finals. On a wicket that progressively aided the spinners more and more, Railways were unstoppable, and bowled out Baroda for 182. Shreyas Khanolkar's offbreaks yielded 5 for 21 from just 10.4 overs as Baroda lost quick wickets in pursuit of 240. The win took Railways to 14 points, second in the group after Mumbai (22 points) and one point clear of Uttar Pradesh. This means that Railways take on Hyderabad, and Tamil Nadu host Mumbai, in this year's semi-final.

Karnataka 475 and 119 for 3 beat Assam 285 and 308 (Sathish 100, Das 56, Powar 51, Saravanan 50, Joshi 5-100) by 7 wickets
It can be said that Karnataka won the battle but lost the war at the end of their final league game at Bangalore. They successfully chased down a target of 119 on the final day, but failed to gather the bonus point and missed out on a semi-final slot. Due to this result, Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad scraped through to the semi-finals. Sunil Joshi and Dodda Ganesh were primarily responsible for Assam to be bowled out for 308. Rajagopal Sathish's 138-ball hundred and plucky contributions from Kiran Powar and Vasanth Saravanan guided them to the comfort of 214 for 5, but Joshi got stuck into the lower order and they folded quickly. Barrington Rowland, after his marathon double-hundred in the first innings, ensured that he finished the job with a rapid 42. It just wasn't enough to take Karnataka to the knock-out stage.

Mumbai 224 and 181 for 4 (Mane 60, Thakkar 50) drew with Punjab 153 (Uniyal 56, Hazare 5-45)
Swapnil Hazare and Usman Malvi, the medium-pacers, shot out Punjab for 153 and Mumbai gained some valuabe batting practice, apart from two points, on the final day at Mohali. Punjab, who needed an outright win to qualify for the last four, were denied first by some heavy fog and then by some nippy bowling. Fog had disrupted play on the first three days and a draw was the only result probable. Amit Uniyal's 56 beefed up the total to a considerable extent after they were 70 for 5 overnight. Hazaare and Malvi claimed nine wickets between them. In the 47 overs that were at Mumbai's disposal, Vinayak Mane and Bhavin Thakkar notched up half-centuries and Ramesh Powar enlivened proceedings with a 42-ball 36.

Uttar Pradesh 214 and 255 beat Kerala 247 and 132 by 90 runs
The Kerala batsmen lasted just 46.1 overs today at Palakkad as they folded for 132 and UP romped home by 90 runs. The result ensured that Kerala were relegated to the Plate group for the next season. Chasing 223 for victory, Kerala found partnerships hard to come by and three of their batsmen succumbed to the offspin of Nikhil Chopra. Cheruvillil Deepak (30), the wicketkeeper, and Ajay Kudva (25) held things together for a brief period but their departure triggered the slide. UP too had their irresponsible moments with the bat, in both innings, as their last seven batsmen frittered away the starts that their top order had provided. Yet, Kerala couldn't capitalise and Chopra's bowling (7 for 93 in the match) ultimately tilted the scales.

Gujarat 179 and 384 for 3 (Niraj Patel 118, Christian 103, Sood 100*) drew with Bengal 479
Three Gujarat batsmen helped themselves to hundreds and the match at Ahmedabad reached its inevitable conclusion. After falling behind by 300 runs in the first innings, Akash Christian and Niraj Patel put on 181 for the second wicket and ensured that Bengal were denied an outright win. Amit Sood also joined in the fun with an unbeaten 112-ball 100 and carted 14 fours and a six. Bengal took two points away from the game, but both teams missed out on a spot in the semi-finals.

Delhi 155 for 1 (Dahiya 71*) trail Andhra 438 by 283 runs
The Delhi batsmen laboured at just over two an over, very much like what Andhra did when they batted, on the third day at Vishakapatnam. Sanjay Gill cleaned up the Andhra tail this morning and finished as Delhi's most successful bowler, with figures of 4 for 87. Pururaj Singh and Rajat Bhatia began the Delhi reply with a 51-run stand. Vijay Dahiya, the former Indian wicketkeeper, scored 71, which included six fours and a six and remained unbeaten when stumps were drawn.

This match finished yesterday

Hyderabad 389 beat Rajasthan 235 (Saxena 62, NP Singh 6 for 70) and 145 by an innings and 9 runs
Rajasthan collapsed in a heap - twice - as Hyderabad wrapped up the match with a day to spare and almost made sure of a semi-final berth. Rajasthan managed 235 in the morning with Narender Pal Singh, the medium-pacer, destroyed them with 6 for 70. Vineet Saxena was chiefly responsible for Rajasthan reaching the total but they still fell four runs short of avoiding the follow on. They mustered only 145 when they batted again with Sankinani Vishnuvardhan and Daniel Manohar grabbing seven wickets between them. Gagan Khoda's 45 was the only act of resistance, but even that couldn't prevent Rajasthan being relegated into the Plate division.

Plate Championship Fifth Round
Points Table

Madhya Pradesh 443 and 190 for 2 (Abbas Ali 100*, Ojha 65) drew with Jammu & Kashmir 263 (Kavaljit 119, Pandey 6-121)
At Jammu, the MP batsmen gained some batting practice, after J&K had failed to avoid the follow-on. J&K began the day on 170 for 5 and Kavaljit Singh completed a sedate century with some lower-order support. Sanjay Pandey, the medium-pacer, and Narendra Hirwani shared the spoils with Hirwani accounting for the last four batsmen. Syed Abbas Ali and Naman Ojha got MP off to a rollicking start, when they batted again, and Ali rattled up a 121-ball hundred with the help of 12 fours and two sixes.

Vidarbha 226 drew with Haryana 215 for 8
Haryana scraped through to the semi-finals as their fixture at Rohtak ended in a draw. Due to a dense covering of fog, play began only after lunch and Haryana couldn't complete their first innings. They finished on a precarious 215 for 8 and most of the batsmen were intent on spending time in the middle rather than scoring too many - Ishan Ganda's 31 spanned more than four hours. Chandrashekar Atram and Sandeep Singh, the mediumpacers, finished up three wickets apiece. Both teams took 1 point from the game and it suited Haryana just fine.

Services 268 drew with Orissa 173 for 4 (Das 100*)
At Delhi, Shiv Sunder Das notched up a round hundred before the match finished in a drab draw. None of the other batsmen passed 25 and Das's unbeaten innings was the sole highlight of the day. With constant weather interruptions throughout the four days, both teams were content to bide time from the start. Services used up 129 overs in their first innings for compiling 268. The match was a dead-rubber from the outset, with Orissa having already qualified for the last four and Services not in the running.

Maharashtra 564 drew with Himachal Pradesh 219 and 392 (Sharma 135, Bisla 83, Sangram 70, Dalvi 7-93)
The HP batsmen put on a solid performance after following on, as the match at Ichalkaranji ended in a tame draw. Sandeep Sharma cashed in with a strokeful hundred and he received able support from Maninder Bisla (83) and Sangram Singh (70). Sharma's 278-ball innings contained 20 fours and his partnership with Sangram produced 149 and took them to safety. But apart from the three batsmen who passed 50, he others fell to the wiles of Mandar Dalvi, the left-arm spinner, who finished with great figures of 7 for 93.

Saurashtra 220 and 379 for 5 dec (Kotak 118, Waghela 83, Shah 86) drew with Goa 434
A steady century from Sitanshu Kotak was the highlight of the final day's play at Margao as the match, which was only of academic interest, petered out to a draw. Kanaia Waghela and Jaydev Shah hit contrasting 80's, one dogged the other lively, while Shadab Jakati, the left-arm spinner from Goa, claimed four wickets. Goa had dominated the match from the outset when Avinash Aware's 6 for 85 restricted Saurashtra to 220 on the first day. Vivek Kolambkar and Mandar Phadke lashed hundreds and were chiefly responsible for Goa's massive 434.

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