Vidarbha, Maharashtra take control
Vidarbha's lower order made use of the satisfactory platform built on the opening day, crafting a formidable first-innings total by keeping Hyderabad on the field for the entire second day in Nagpur. At the end of it, Vidarbha had reached 467 for 8 and were in control of the semi-final. It had not begun well, though. They resumed their innings on 225 for 5 and soon slipped to 267 for 7, losing Sairaj Bahutule and Shrikant Wagh. But Ranjit Paradkar, who has two centuries this season, provided stability and momentum in the first two sessions with a watchful 75.
If Hyderabad sensed an opportunity to polish off the tail after Paradkar departed with the team total on 342, they were in for a surprise as the lower order pair Amol Jungade and Akshay Wakhare raised an unbroken 125-run stand for the ninth wicket. Jungade's 92 was his best first-class score, and Wakhare's 50 was his second half-century. Hyderabad were left ruing a missed chance - Wakhare was let off when only on four and the total on 364. Barring that one chance the Jungade-Wakhare combine continued to frustrate the visitors' bowlers unhindered.
Maharashtra claimed three vital wickets after posting a strong first-innings total, to take control of their semi-final against Himachal Pradesh in Pune. Resuming the innings on 232 for 4, Ankit Bawne converted his 56 into a century, finishing on 137 off 375 balls. Bawne found able support in his captain Rohit Motwani, who made 59 before his attempt to cut his HP counterpart, Vikramjit Malik, led to his downfall. The fifth-wicket combine of Bawne and Motwani had added crucial 110 runs.
Bawne stayed firm, despite the absence of a stable partner at the other end. The left-handed Bawne had batted for more than seven hours as he hit his second century of the season. He was the ninth batsman out, and Maharashtra's innings ended on 415. When it was Maharashtra's turn to bowl, Samad Fallah gave them an ideal start by dismissing HP opener Paul Valthaty lbw off the fourth delivery of the first over. Paras Dogra dominated a half-century partnership for the second wicket but he lost his partner, Abhinav Bali, with the score on 62. Dogra was then involved in the run out of S Sriram, who had once represented Maharashtra, in the final over of the day. At 68 for 3, HP have a mountain to climb.