Ranji Trophy 2012-13, Group A, Round 1, 4th day November 5, 2012

Punjab take seven points, MP deny Gujarat

ESPNcricinfo staff

Punjab 565 for 6 dec. (Jiwanjot 213, Goel 129, Uday Kaul 54*) beat Hyderabad 258 (Reddy 63, Gony 4-60, Amitoze 3-33) and 239 (Laxman 67, Reddy 59, Siddarth Kaul 5-53, Harbhajan 3-50) by an innings and 68 runs

Harbhajan Singh celebrated his return to Test squad with three wickets in an innings win over Hyderabad to secure full seven points for Punjab. Siddarth Kaul, who took three wickets on the third evening, added two more to end up with his second five-for in his fourth first-class match.

Punjab began the day needing seven wickets for an innings win, and it was always going to come down to VVS Laxman. In opener Akshath Reddy's company, Laxman thwarted Punjab for close to two hours, but once Reddy got out to Harbhajan, the floodgates opened.

Siddarth Kaul accounted for Laxman, and the rest folded easily. It was another good day for the Kauls: Siddarth's brother, Uday, took five catches.

Gujarat 355 (Parthiv 162, Rajan 7-77) and 301 for 6 dec. (Parthiv Patel 80, Smit Patel 60, Niraj Patel 59) drew with Madhya Pradesh 250 (Ojha 71, Mehul Patel 4-37) and 258 for 7 (Ojha 64, Saxena 52 not out, Dhurv 4-45)

Jalaj Saxena, who has been the offspinner on two India A tours now, might not have been picked for the Tests but pulled out an excellent rearguard with the bat to give Madhya Pradesh one point in what looked like a certain defeat. When Saxena came in to bat, MP were 179 for 6 despite Naman Ojha's 64, and needed to bat 33.2 overs to save the match.

Saxena drew support from Amit Sharma and Anand Rajan. The latter had also taken seven wickets in Gujarat's first innings. With Amit, Saxena saw through close to 10 overs, but the partnership of the day came with Rajan. The two played out 24.3 overs to frustrate Gujarat, who couldn't find a wicket-taker other than Rakesh Dhurv and Mehul Patel, who bowled 51 overs between them for seven wickets.

While Saxena got a much-deserved half-century, Rajan stayed unbeaten on nine off 64 balls.

Bengal 258 (Das 95, Saha 59, Pankaj Singh 5-50) and 232 for 9 dec. (Saha 65, Pankaj Singh 4-84) drew with Rajasthan 161 (Sarkar 4-62, Shukla 3-21) ad 181 for 3 (Kanitkar 80*, Parida 52* )

Wriddhiman Saha and Laxmi Shukla roughed it out through the testing period in the morning session to see Bengal through to safety and three points. Bengal made a declaration before lunch, but in a match punctuated by bad light there was never going to be enough time to force a result.

Bengal began the day at 109 for 5, still needing a solid partnership to consolidate their 97-run first-innings lead, and they found it through Shukla and Saha. They added 55 for the sixth wicket, and Saha went on to score his second fifty of the match before Manoj Tiwary set Rajasthan a target of 330.

Ashok Dinda provided Bengal with a good start with Ankit Lamba's wicket, but the experience of Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Rashmi Parida was enough to see defending champions Rajasthan through to one point.

Mumbai 570 (Tendulkar 137, Rahane 129, Nayar 107*) and 230 for 5 (Pawar 85, Rahane 84) drew with Railways 426 (Bhille 73, Rawat 68, Bangar 67, Agarkar 3-43)

Railways began the day needing 41 runs to avoid the follow-on with two wickets in hand, and only an enforced follow-on could have kept the rest of the day interesting. As it turned out, Zaheer Khan, who had cramped up on day three according to captain Ajit Agarkar, didn't even take the field, and Railways' ninth-wicket stand of Krishnakant Upadhyay and Anureet Singh made sure they wouldn't have to bat again.

After that Kaustubh Pawar and Ajinkya Rahane scored 80s in glorified batting practice.