Bhatt helps Gujarat hang on for draw
Gujarat 260 (Smit Patel 67, Parthiv Patel 61, Sarkar 4-60, Dinda 3-73) and 272 for 8 (Bhatt 102, Dhurv 83) drew with Bengal 526 for 7 dec. (Tiwary 191, Shukla 113 not out, Das 75, Majumdar 68)
Gujarat entered the final day at Eden Gardens staring at a certain defeat, but thanks to a century from Rujul Bhatt and a battling 83 from Rakesh Dhurv, they held off Bengal to avoid defeat. Gujarat began the day at 18 for 4, and lost the experienced Venugopal Rao on the first ball of the day. The scores of the top five read: 0, 4, 0, 12, 2. Gujarat's resistance began with a 48-run stand between Rush Kalaria and Manprit Juneja, before Bhatt and Dhurv took over. The pair put on 149 for the eighth wicket to frustrate Bengal's bowlers. It was Bhatt's second century on the trot, but while the previous one against Saurashtra came on the flattest of tracks, this was a more testing surface and the match situation was also tougher. Bengal are now on six points, joint second place with Mumbai and Saurashtra, but those two teams have played a game less.
Saurashtra 260 (Jackson 67, Ashish Reddy 6-56) and 270 for 6 dec (Jogiyani 69, Shah 55) drew with Hyderabad 186 (Akshath Reddy 51, Jadeja 6-71) and 232 for 6 (Ashish Reddy 56*, Sandeep 50*)
Saurashtra declared on their overnight score, giving themselves the whole of the final day to try and bowl out Hyderabad, but couldn't pull off an outright win. Saurashtra's decision to set Hyderabad a target of 345 in 90 overs was adventurous by Ranji standards and Hyderabad's openers began positively, scoring 49 off 12 overs. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who took six wickets in the first innings, however removed both of them after which Hyderabad gave up trying to chase down the target. No. 7 Ashish Reddy struck a brisk 56 to raise the home side's hopes briefly but after he was bowled by Jaydev Unadkat, Hyderabad's primary task was doggedly playing out the remaining overs.
Railways 205 (Sandeep Sharma 4-38, Siddarth Kaul 3-66) and 353 for 5 dec (Paunikar 166, Bangar 62*) drew with Punjab 314 (Uday Kaul 100, Amitoze Singh 55) and 59 for 2
In a game with little to play for on the final day, Amit Paunikar went on to make his career-best score of 166 to push Railways to 353 in their second innings against Punjab. The other Railways batsman to make a substantial contribution was their captain Sanjay Bangar, who was unbeaten on 62. By the time Railways declared, with little more than a session for Punjab to bat out, the match was meandering along. Karan Goel was retired hurt, and Mayank Sidhana and Mandeep Singh fell early, but Punjab's in-form batsmen Jiwanjot Singh and Uday Kaul played out the final 15 overs before the play was called off. Punjab continue to top the table with 17 points, opening up a 11-point lead over the second-placed teams.
Madhya Pradesh 256 (Rameez 54, Bundela 53, Pankaj Singh 4-63, Rituraj 4-68) and 466 for 6 dec. (Ojha 108, Saxena 76*, Rameez 54, Zafar 54) drew with Rajasthan 379 (Parida 108, Bist 85, Pandey 6-92) and 88 for 4 (Saxena 2-25)
At the KL Saini ground in Jaipur, in another of the group's matches that was heading for a draw even before the start of the final day, there were no surprises. Madhya Pradesh helped themselves to some batting practice after having given up a hefty first-innings lead. Beginning the day 77 ahead, MP couldn't declare too early to avoid the risk of an outright defeat; that meant they closed their innings only at tea, setting Rajasthan a target of 344 in one session. After having gained only two points from their two matches, defending champions Rajasthan picked up three from this match.