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Wisden Cricinfo staff
March 19, 2004
Elite Group semi-finals
Tamil Nadu 481 and 306 (Ramesh 97) drew with Railways 342 and 117 for 5 and progressed to the Ranji trophy final
At Chennai, Sadagoppan Ramesh made up for his first-innings failure with a steady 97, as Tamil Nadu cruised into the final of the Ranji Trophy. No result was possible in their semi-final against Railways, so Tamil Nadu's first-innings lead took them through. Having gained a 139-run lead, Tamil Nadu didn't try to force the issue. Sridharan Sriram (38) and Dinesh Karthik (48) chipped in with useful knocks as Ramesh steered the ship to complete safety. Kulamani Parida, the offspinner, and medium-pacer Jai Prakash Yadav snapped up four wickets apiece, and Tamil Nadu finally finished with 306. A target of 446 was never on the cards, and Railways were reduced to 15 for 4 within the first eight overs. However, Raja Ali and Siddharth Varma held on and the match petered out to a tame draw. In the first innings, Sriram and Karthik had starred in a 211-run stand that put Tamil Nadu on course to a huge total. Railways fell short by a long way, despite Yadav's fighting 116. Tamil Nadu, for the second year in succession, will take on Mumbai in the final and will be out to avenge their loss at the Wankhede Stadium last year. The final will be played at Chennai from March 26.
Plate Group semi-finals
Madhya Pradesh 258 and 315 for 5 (Abbas Ali 90*, Ojha 54) beat Orissa 318 and 253 by five wickets
Madhya Pradesh chased down a target of 314 on the final day at Cuttack and got the better of Orissa in an absorbing contest. They began the day at 84 for 2, and all the batsmen played their part. However, Syed Abbas Ali clinched the issue with a crucial 90 off just 75 balls, and MP cruised home with five wickets to spare. Ali smashed eight fours and four sixes in his fiery knock. The pendulum had swung each day, with Pravanjan Mullick and Sanjay Raul the star turns for Orissa. Yogesh Golwalkar, the legspinner, led MP's fightback in the first innings with 6 for 95, then Ali shut Orissa out completely with his timely innings on the final day.
Maharashtra 592 and 11 for 0 beat Haryana 236 and 364 (Adhav 5-125) by 10 wickets
Maharashtra romped into the Plate Group final with a comprehensive ten-wicket win over Haryana at Pune. Kiran Adhav, the left-arm spinner, finished with a five-wicket haul as Haryana managed 364 in their second innings. That left Maharashtra a target of only nine runs, which the openers duly knocked off. The victory, though, was made possible on the second and third days as Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Deeraj Jhadav and Satyajit Satbhai amassed hundreds and helped Maharashtra pile up a massive 592. Shafiq Khan's 114 in the first innings was the standout effort for Haryana, but it wasn't enough in the face of such a daunting total. Maharashtra will face Madhya Pradesh in the final of the Plate Group. And both teams, by virtue of their semi-final wins, will now play in the Elite Group next season.
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