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December 23, 2012
Madhya Pradesh 191 for 5 (Choudhary 73*) trail Mumbai 304 (Pawar 111*, Pandey 6-54) v
Kaustubh Pawar became the second man to carry his bat through for Mumbai, emulating Madhav Mantri's feat, to take them to 304, but their butter fingers returned to haunt them in the field. Madhya Pradesh fought hard to finish the day at 191 for 5 with the game in balance. The impressive fast bowler Ishwar Pandey finished with six wickets before Satyam Choudhary held MP's innings together with a dour maiden and unbeaten half-century.
The day began with Pandey coming back from his calf injury that had sidelined him for the second half of the first day. Immediately MP took the second new ball, but it was Anand Rajan who took the early wickets before Pandey picked his fifth. At 262 for 9, it seemed Pawar would be stranded without a century, but Javed Khan provided him good company and they added 42 for the last wicket.
Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan looked menacing on a difficult pitch with seam movement and uneven bounce, but their fielders didn't oblige. Wasim Jaffer and Hiken Shah dropped one catch each, and wicketkeeper Aditya Tare didn't go for a simple chance to his right. Still they kept picking up wickets, but not Choudhary's, who defended stoutly.
Punjab 227 for 7 (Mandeep 66, Uday Kaul 63*, Sidhana 50) trail Gujarat 266 (Sandeep 4-40) by 39 runs
Punjab, who have already qualified for the knockouts, came within striking distance of securing three more points in their final league game. They took the last Gujarat wicket for the addition of just five runs to the overnight 261, and then came back from a rare top-order stumble to end the second day at 227 for 7.
Both Jiwanjot Singh and Ravi Inder Singh fell within the first five overs, but Mayank Sidhana and Mandeep Singh rebuilt with a 92-run stand for the third wicket. Sidhana fell soon after reaching his half-century, but Uday Kaul kept Mandeep company. Punjab lost wickets regularly after Mandeep fell for 66, but Uday remained firm, going unbeaten into stumps.
Saurashtra 213 for 7 (Makvana 54*, Jackson 54) trail Rajasthan 299 (Menaria 103, Saxena 71) by 86 runs
Pankaj Singh kept asking what more he needs to do for an India call-up with the wicket of Test star Cheteshwar Pujara, but Saurashtra came back well from the crisis that was 18 for 4. The day began with Rajasthan's last pair adding 31 to the overnight 268, and they clearly carried the momentum.
Pankaj and Rituraj Singh ran through the top order before Sheldon Jackson stitched together partnerships with the lower order. After Jackson, Kamlesh Makvana kept them fighting as they didn't lose a single wicket in the last 28.5 overs of the day. Makvana remained unbeaten on 54.
Railways 145 for 2 (Bangar 43*, Ojha 2-17) trail Hyderabad 337 (Ashish Reddy 82, Sandeep 68, Kartik 4-88) by 192 runs
Ashish Reddy fell 18 short of a century, Pragyan Ojha took two wickets for Hyderabad, but Sanjay Bangar and Nitin Bhille denied them for long enough to set up a close contest for a first-innings lead. Hyderabad began the day at 247 for 6, losing the last four for 90 runs before Ojha put them ahead with the wickets of the openers. However, towards the end of the day the hosts remained wicketless for 37.2 overs.
Had Reddy got there, this would have been a maiden first-class century for the right-arm medium pacer. Murali Kartik took four wickets for Railways before the Hyderabad left-arm spinner threatened similar damage. The partnership between Bangar and Bhille, though - worth a dour 75 at about two an over - meant a day of hard work was in the offing.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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