Excitement at Eden, double for debutant in Mohali
Bengal 258 (Das 95, Saha 59, Pankaj Singh 5-50) and 109 for 5 (Pankaj Singh 3-15) lead Rajasthan 161 (Sarkar 4-62, Shukla 3-21) by 206 runs
In a match marred by bad-light interruptions, both teams produced entertaining cricket to keep alive the prospects of an outright result. Sourav Sarkar and Laxmi Shukla took seven wickets between them to secure a 97-run lead for Bengal before Pankaj Singh kept the game alive with three for 15.
However, given the history of the bad light in Kolkata - only 179.5 overs have been bowled in three days, a draw, and three first-innings points for Bengal remain the favoured result.
The first session, though was played in sunlight, and Sarkar's mix of big inswingers and straight deliveries pushed Rajasthan back, who began the day at 63 for 4. Both key not-out batsmen, Ashok Menaria and Rashmi Parida, fell to Sarkar. Shukla, too, added one to his overnight tally of two wickets.
Pankaj, though, didn't let Bengal run away with the game, and got the key wickets of openers Jayojit Basu, Subhomoy Das and captain Manoj Tiwary.
Hyderabad 258 (Reddy 63, Gony 4-60, Amitoze 3-33) and 46 for 3 (Siddarth Kaul 3-7) trail Punjab 565 for 6 dec. (Jiwanjot 213, Goel 129, Uday Kaul 55*) by 261 runs
Jiwanjot Singh became the fifth Indian to score a double-century on first-class debut, and the Kaul brothers then got into act to push Hyderabad to the brink of an innings defeat. Jiwanjot and Karan Goel fell 13 short of the Punjab record for the highest opening partnership, but their 288-run association was enough to set up a declaration and a push for outright win.
By the time Hyderabad separated the Punjab openers, the hosts were already ahead by 30 runs. Jiwanjot kept going strong, and wicketkeeper-batsman Uday Kaul and Harbhajan Singh provided enough late runs for Punjab to declare in a position of strength. Uday remained unbeaten on 54, and Harbhajan Singh looted an unbeaten 48 off 33. Pragyan Ojha bowled 50 overs for 201 runs and two wickets.
Given an awkward 15-over spell to bat before stumps, Hyderabad lost three wickets. All three wickets came through catches for Uday off the bowling of younger brother Siddarth Kaul. VVS Laxman had to bat out three balls before stumps.
Madhya Pradesh 250 (Ojha 71, Mehul Patel 4-37) and 23 for 0 need another 384 to beat Gujarat 355 (Parthiv 162, Rajan 7-77) and 301 for 6 dec. (Parthiv Patel 80, Smit Patel 60, Niraj Patel 59)
Gujarat were pushing for an outright win over Madhya Pradesh after securing a 105-run first-innings lead, and a declaration set up by fifties from three Patels - Parthiv, Smit and Niraj. Madhya Pradesh openers survived the seven tricky overs to stumps, but still needed 384 to win.
The first Patel in action on the day was right-arm quick Mehul, who took the last two MP wickets in three balls to make sure the batsmen had enough time to capitalise. MP responded with an early first wicket, but a 106-run stand between Smit and Niraj out the issue beyond them. Parthiv, who scored 162 in the first innings, then scored 80 off 7 to set up the declaration.
Railways 380 for 8 (Bhille 73, Rawat 68, Bangar 67, Agarkar 3-43) trail Mumbai 570 (Tendulkar 137, Rahane 129, Nayar 107*) by 190 runs
Mumbai kept picking wickets regularly to all but ensure them a first-innings lead, but their main target now was to take the next two wickets for fewer than 40 in order to enforce a follow-on on Railways.
Led by Sanjay Bangar and Nitin Bhille's fifties, Railways put up a fight in the face of Mumbai's mammoth total, but they just couldn't put in huge partnerships. Four of their partnerships got off to good starts, but only one - between Bangar and Bhille - went past 100. None of their three half-centurions went on to score a hundred. Ajit Agarkar led Mumbai with three wickets, while Zaheer, who walked off with cramp in the final session, managed just one in his 20.5 overs.
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