Ranji Trophy 2003-04 November 18, 2003

Mumbai and Gujarat get that winning feeling

Mumbai 239 (Thakkar 71, Sarandeep 5-107) and 185 for 0 (Jaffer 117*, Mane 63*) beat Delhi 224 (Gambhir 105) and 199 (Gambhir 96, Bahutule 5-45) by 10 wickets
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Wasim Jaffer: leading the Mumbai victory march
© Getty Images


It was as if the venue of the match between Mumbai and Delhi was hurriedly shifted for this fourth day. On the first three days 29 wickets fell and the spinners were dictating terms on a vicious turner. But today, Wasim Jaffer batted with complete assurance to notch up his first century of the season. Vinayak Mane, his opening partner, hit a steady unbeaten 63, and Mumbai coasted home with plenty to spare. Jaffer hit nine fours and a six in a masterful innings, to help Mumbai go top of their group with their second outright victory in as many matches. Sarandeep Singh and Rahul Sanghvi, Delhi's spinners, were carted for 98 runs in their 22 overs, as Jaffer and Mane made the pitch look like a belter and batting an easy profession.

Gautam Gambhir was the only Delhi batsman to make an impression, following his electric 96 in the first innings with a grafting 105 in the second. Mumbai's batting also struggled in the first innings, but a late-order revival led by Bhavin Thakkar helped them grab a first-innings lead. All the spinners - Sairaj Bahutule, Nilesh Kulkarni, Sanghvi and Sarandeep - had a great time in the match on a spinning wicket, at least until Jaffer and Mane took strike this morning.

Gujarat 234 (Christian 73) and 260 for 3 (Christian 104, Patel 55) beat Assam 180 (Saika 56, Saravanan 58) and 312 for 3 dec (Powar 108, Saravanan 100*) by 7 wickets
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After conceding a first-innings lead, Assam rattled up 312 in 68 overs and set a challenging total for Gujarat to chase on the final day at Guwahati. But Akash Christian led the charge with a fine 104, and Gujarat cruised to a seven-wicket win to register their first victory of the season. NK Patel's 55 was the other highlight of the day.

Assam's enterprising second innings won them a lot of plaudits, as both Kiran Powar and Vasnanth Saravanan hit breezy hundreds to set up a fascinating final day. Powar was more aggressive, with two sixes and eight fours, while Saravanan's knock included nine boundaries. However, Assam will rue their collapse on the first day, when they caved in for 180 - they were chasing the match from that point. Akash Christian's obdurate 73 then helped Gujarat take the first-innings lead.

Railways 295 (Khandolkar 72) and 320 (Bangar 86, TP Singh 50, Harvinder Singh 50, Ananthapadmanabhan 7-104) drew with Kerala 321 (H Kumar 131, S Kumar 56*, Yadav 5-101, Harvinder 5-57) and 142 for 3 (Kudva 50*, Oasis 53*)
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Kerala picked up two points by virtue of their first-innings lead in the drawn match against Railways at Palakkad. The hero of the final day was Ananthapadmanabhan, the veteran legspinner, who picked up seven wickets in a marathon 36.2 overs. Harvinder Singh entertained the sparse crowd with a 41-ball 50 that included five fours and three sixes. After that, Kerala had no problem batting out the day with Ajay Kudva and Sunil Oasis, the captain, rattling up half-centuries and ensuring some valuable points.

Earlier in the match, Shreyas Khandolkar waged a lone battle on the first day to take Railways to a position of respectability, then Harvinder Singh and Madan Yadav reduced Kerala to 195 for 7. But Hemanth Kumar's stolid 131 and Suresh Kumar's unbeaten 56 proved to be the turning points of the match. Though the Railways batsmen put up a much better show second time round, with Sanjay Bangar leading the way, a draw was always the likeliest outcome.

Uttar Pradesh 471 (Prakash 186, Shamshad 65, Pandey 65*, G Singh 4-97) and 32 for 0 drew with Punjab 441 (Ricky 115, Mongia 185)
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In a match where both teams were vying for the first-innings lead - thanks largely to a belter of a pitch - the UP bowlers bowled out Punjab 30 runs short of their first innings total and gathered two valuable points in the bargain. Punjab began the final day at 312 for 3 with Dinesh Mongia batting on 185, but he was out without addition, and even though a useful partnership between Pankaj Dharmani (46) and C Madan (37) got them close, it wasn't good enough.

J Prakash was the mainstay of UP's batting, and his 186 served as the fulcrum around which the rest built useful partnerships. He shared a 197-run opening stand with JP Yadav, while Rizwan Shamshad and Gyanendra Pandey also contributed valuable half-centuries. No bowler picked up a rich haul of wickets and the entire match hinged only on the first innings lead.

Bengal 228 (Shukla 86) and 318 for 7 (Shukla 87, Haldipur 66, Gavaskar 64*, Chakraborty 56) drew with Karnataka 411 (Rowland 151, Naidu 71, Arunkumar 63, Paul 6-90)
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The Bengal batmen finally got their act together on the final day at Mandya, and denied Karnataka their first win of the season. Four batsmen scored half-centuries, with the top-scorer being Laxmi Ratan Shukla who carried on from where he left off in the first innings. Nikhil Haldipur and AP Chakraborty steadied the innings after two quick wickets, then Shukla and Rohan Gavaskar made sure that Bengal hung on for a draw. As in the first innings Dodda Ganesh was the most successful bowler for Karnataka: surprisingly, none of the spinners made any impression on a wearing pitch.

The first two days belonged to Barrington Rowland who hit a classy 151. Shib Paul was the only bowler who caused many problems, and he ended up with six wickets. Two-thirds of the first day was lost after overnight rain, and that proved to be a significant factor for Karnataka, who ran out of time to force the issue on the final day.

Andhra 230 (YV Rao 76, Patel 5-54) and 92 for 3 beat Baroda 216 (Gaekwad 68) and 105 by 7 wickets
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A pathetic batting display by Baroda handed Andhra an outright victory within three days to register their first win of the campaign. Andhra's bowlers backed up their captain's decision to field first after winning the toss, shooting Baroda out for 216. Andhra also found the going tough, with only Venugopala Rao and MSK Prasad making much impression, but they did claim a first-innings lead, a major psychological factor in these matches.

Baroda's second innings was miserable - they collapsed for a paltry 105, with Connor Williams's 17 the top score. All the Andhra bowlers contributed, then RV Prasad's 3 for 19 in five overs ended any faint hopes of tailend resistance. Andhra knocked off the 92 runs required for victory for the loss of only three wickets, to hand Baroda their second successive defeat of the competition.

Tamil Nadu 213 (Badrinath 43) beat Rajasthan 97 (Ramkumar 4-41) and 107 (Balaji 7-42) by an innings and 9 runs
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L Balaji couldn't have chosen a better day to demolish Rajasthan and hand Tamil Nadu an innings victory within two days - their second successive win this season. On the day he was omitted from the Indian squad for the tour of Australia Balaji sent down 18.5 overs - nine of them maidens - and snared seven victims to sent Rajasthan hurtling towards disaster. Earlier in the day Balaji had batted bravely for his 25, and put on a valuable 41 runs for the ninth wicket with MR Shrinivas (23). Only VA Saxena, the Rajasthan opener, batted with any purpose for his 43 - the rest just caved in to some accurate bowling from a man who performed as if there were no tomorrow.

The first day had followed a similar pattern for Rajasthan, as on a pitch with a smear of green they were shot out for 97. Ramkumar, the left-arm spinner, took four wickets with able assistance from Balaji. The TN batting also struggled, but S Badrinath (43) and S Sharath (44) battled towards respectability, and Balaji and Shrinivas built successfully on their efforts.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is on the staff of Wisden Cricinfo in India.

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