Ranji Trophy, 7th round, 1st day January 1, 2005

Hyderabad on the brink of sealing semi-final slot

Cricinfo staff

Points Table

Assam 158 and 9 for 2 trail Hyderabad 340 by 173 runs

Hyderabad were on the brink of sealing a spot in the semi-finals as Assam followed on in the final league game at the Gymkhana Ground at Secundrabad. Having made 340 in the first innings, largely due to a sparkling 135 by VVS Laxman, Hyderabad shot out Assam for 158 in their first innings. Inder Shekhar Reddy, the left-arm spinner, was the most successful bowler with 4 for 37 while Sankinani Vishnuvardhan accounted for three more. G Sharma, playing his third first-class game, top scored with 44 but that only delayed Hyderabad's charge towards a big win.

Tamil Nadu 277 and 15 for 0 lead Maharashtra 175 (Jadhav 74) by 117 runs

Tamil Nadu's semi-final aspirations went up in smoke after Maharashtra thwarted their chances of the getting a bonus point at Chennai. After struggling to 277 in their first innings, Tamil Nadu got a near-perfect start as they reduced Maharashtra to 6 for 3. But a fighting 74 from Dheeraj Jadhav, the opener who was recently included in the Indian squad, ensured that Maharashtra crossed the follow-on mark. Rajamani Jesuraj, TN's opening bowler, and the left-arm spinner Ramakrishnan Ramkumar snapped up four wickets apiece but it wasn't enough to prevent the door being shut on their chances.

Bengal 70 for 4 trail Madhya Pradesh 392 (Abbas Ali 145) by 322 runs
Bengal were staring at the prospect of being relegated to the Plate Group after being reduced to 70 for 4, still 322 behind, in the final league game against Madhya Pradesh at Kolkata. Responding to MP's 392, Bengal lost both their openers within the first five overs, both to Sanjay Pandey, the medium pacer. Yogesh Golwalkar, the legsponner, then prised out two more wickets, including Rohan Gavaskar, before close and MP were favourites to remain in the Elite Group. Sourav Ganguly was unbeaten on 4 when stumps were drawn. Earlier, Abbas Ali had anchored MP's batting effort in the first two days with a composed 145. Naman Ojha (96) also shone while the lower order chipped in with vital contributions to lift the total to 392.

Baroda 186 and 54 for 3 lead Uttar Pradesh 124 (Yusuf Pathan 5-31) by 116 runs
Yusuf Pathan, Irfan's brother, weaved a web around the Uttar Pradesh batsmen as Baroda inched towards a semi-final spot in their final league game in Vadodara. Yusuf, the allrounder who bowls legpin, helped in bundling out UP for a meager 124 as Baroda seized the initiative in the low-scoring tussle. Zaheer Khan chipped in with three wickets and Baroda took a crucial 62-run lead on the second day before extending it to 116 before the close of play. Baroda have no chance of getting a bonus point from this game but a win here will place them level with Punjab on 16 points. The team with the higher runs-per-wicket quotient will sneak through.

Mumbai 32 for 0 trail Delhi 394 (Jadeja 93) by 362 runs

Ajay Jadeja held the innings together with a gritty 94 and thanks to some lower-order resistance, Delhi reached 394 in their first innings at the Wankhede Stadium. Jadeja smacked 12 fours and two sixes in his knock and shared a vital 84-run stand with Sarendeep Singh to bail them out of a minor crisis. Though Jadeja fell at 333, seven short of his 20th first-class hundred, Sarandeep carried on the battle along with Ashish Nehra, who managed to notch up his highest score in first-class cricket. Nehra struck six fours and a six in his 41 and remained unbeaten as Delhi ended on 394. He then sent down an economical spell with the ball, five overs for only eight runs, but the Mumbai openers remained unbeaten at close. With half of yesterday lost due to a damp outfield, both teams may struggle to pull off an outright win but Delhi will aim to get two points, for a first-innings lead, and boost their chances of a semi-final berth.

Andhra 146 for 3 (Venugopal 66*, Gnaneswara 54) trail Gujarat 420 (Modi 72*) by 274 runs

Gujarat enhanced their chances of entering the last four by posting 420 in their first innings and claiming three Andhra wickets before the end of the second day. Nilesh Modi, the wicketkeeper, defied the Andhra bowlers with a fine 72 and was well supported by the tailenders. Modi added 73 with Lalit Patel, the No. 10, and gave them a good chance to gain a first-innings lead. Andhra were in deep trouble at 26 for 3 before the Rao brothers, Venugopal and Gnaneswara, rescued them with a 120-run partnership and both reached their fifties before play ended.

Railways 256 for 4 (Ali 100*, Yadav 54) lead Karnataka 194 by 62 runs

Raja Ali starred with an even hundred and Railways took a comfortable 62-run lead at the IAF Grounds in Bangalore. Karnataka folded for 194 early this morning, after adding only three to their overnight total. Railways, though, didn't find batting as tough a proposition and Ali received good support from Jai Prakash Yadav, who creamed 54 off 84 balls, in a 100-run stand. For Railways, though, even a victory here might not be enough to take them through.