Gurvinder takes Himachal to big win
Himachal Pradesh were the only team in the Plate League to register a win in the first round of matches, beating Tripura by an innings and 15 runs in Agartala. The win was set up by offspinner Gurvinder Singh, who picked up his maiden first-class five-for. Tripura began the final day on 31 for 1, still trailing by 196. Himachal struck two quick blows in the morning session, but were stalled by some stiff resistance from Kaushal Acharjee and Vinayak Samant.
The pair hit fifties and put on a century stand before Gurvinder removed Samant. The spinner then knocked over the next three batsmen cheaply to complete his five-wicket haul and seal the win. Himachal Pradesh take a full quota of six points from the game, to take an early lead on the points table.
Kerala, driven by a century by from Sony Cheruvathur, put in a solid batting performance on the last day to ensure their match against Vidarbha in Nagpur ended in a draw. Kerala resumed on 252 for 4 and were rocked early, as Sachin Baby was caught off the second ball of the day for a duck. However, the other overnight batsman, Cheruvathur, went on to register his maiden first-class ton that carried Kerala to 431 in reply to Vidarbha's 572. Cheruvathur was supported by K Rakesh, who fell one short of what would have been his second first-class fifty.
Legspiner Sairaj Bahutule was the pick of the Vidarbha bowlers with four wickets. Vidarbha batted just three overs in their second innings before play was called off. Vidarbha get three points for taking the first-innings lead, while Kerala get one point for the draw.
Services put in a solid batting performance on the final day to secure a draw against Andhra in Delhi. They were faced with a nigh impossible victory target of 432 and, resuming on 14 for no loss, successfully batted out the day for the loss of just two wickets - that they were shot out for 95 in their first innings puts this performance in perspective. The innings was steered by opener Jasvir Singh, who made a career best 133. Jasvir put on 80 for the first wicket with Pratik Desai, before new-ball bowler DP Vijaykumar struck.
Rajat Paliwal then came in and played the support role to Jasvir, adding 144 before the centurion was run out a couple of overs before the close. In their bid to force a victory, Andhra employed ten bowlers in the innings with hardly anything to show for it. Andhra pick up three points from this match, for securing the first-innings' lead, while Services get a point for the draw.
Hyderabad sealed three points for the first-innings lead against Jharkhand at Uppal and then showed intent to go after the outright win too. Jharkhand started the fourth day on 199 for 5 in response to Hyderabad's 416 and were bowled out for 280. Hyderabad then batted for 26 overs and scored quickly to reach 113 for 2 and gave themselves around a session to have a crack at Jharkhand in the second innings. Jharkhand managed to play out 20 overs for the loss of just one wicket but Hyderabad still had the first-innings lead points.
Jharkhand started the day well, with Amir Hashmi going from 33 not out overnight to 68 and making sure Jharkhand did not lose a wicket for 25.5 overs on the fourth day. His dismissal, by seamer Pagadala Naidu, started a procession and the last five wickets fell for 32 runs in just over ten overs. Lalith Mohan, the 21-year-old left-arm spinner who had taken three top-order wickets on the third day, got the final two scalps of the innings to finish with 5 for 55, his maiden five-wicket haul in first-class cricket.
Jharkhand had done enough to avoid the follow-on, but rather than have a bit of batting practice Hyderabad went hard with Ravi Teja hitting 64 off 73 balls. There was not quite enough time to bowl Jharkhand out a second time though.
After two days of rain at the Sher-i-Kashmir Stadium in Srinagar, Assam made a positive declaration in search of points for a first-innings lead but Jammu & Kashmir were equally positive, getting to 232 for 3 off 52.4 overs, 65 short of Assam's 297 for 4. Both teams were awarded two points each since the match was affected by weather. Assam had reached that score on the first day itself and after the second and third days were washed out they decided not to continue batting on the fourth.
J & K's innings started with Adil Rishi, a 22-year-old debutant, smashing 47 runs off 40 balls. J & K were going along at five an over when Rishi was dismissed in the 12th over. Ian Dev Singh was largely a spectator in the opening partnership but then took charge and scored his second first-class century, getting 103 off 161. Captain Parvez Rassol played aggressively too, scoring 45 off 50 and J & K maintained a run-rate of 4.40 in their short innings.
In a dramatic final day in Porvorim, Goa fell 38 runs short of Maharashtra's first-innings score, but then bowled them out for 91 in the second innings giving Goa a target of 130 for an outright win. However, Goa did not go for the target and agreed to call the game off 17.4 before it ended.
The day started with Maharashtra favourites to get first-innings points; Goa were 328 for 7, still 115 runs behind Maharashtra's first-innings score. But Goa had Vaibhav Naik batting on 137 and he found good company in No. 9 Robin D'Souza. The seamer D'souza had taken a five-for in the first innings and followed it up by scoring 64. He and Naik took their partnership to 118 runs and at 381 for 7 Goa had Maharashtra sweating. But left-arm seamer Samad Fallah dismissed D'souza and then got the final two wickets to finish with 4 for 100 and secure the first-innings lead. Naik was left stranded on 165 not out.
That seemed like it would be the end of any interest in the match but 18-year-old debutant legspinner Ganeshraj Narvekar had other ideas. Narvekar is the son of the Goa Cricket Association president Dayanand Narvekar. In December last year, Dayanand Narvekar had a police case registered against him on charges of forging Ganeshraj's birth certificate so that Ganeshraj could play in an Under-15 tournament. This time Ganeshraj hit the headlines for the right reasons and his 5 for 48 caused a collapse that saw Maharashtra fold for 91. Goa, though, batted only six overs before the captains agreed to end the game early.