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November 4, 2011
Ravindra Jadeja scored his maiden first-class triple-century to carry Saurashtra to 545 against Orissa at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack. Jadeja's 314 became the highest-ever score by any Saurashtra batsman, going past Cheteshwar Pujara's 302, and is the 11th highest score overall in Ranji history. He got his runs at an impressive strike-rate of 83.73, including 29 fours and nine sixes, though it is not the fastest triple-hundred in the Ranji Trophy.
The rest of Saurashtra's middle and lower order could not get going, and no one managed more than Pratik Mehta's 39 on the second day. New-ball bowler Basant Mohanty finished with the best figures for Orissa: 4 for 86. Despite Saurashtra's daunting total, Orissa's openers managed to safely negotiate 18 overs and take their side to 51 for 0 at stumps. Saurashtra's spinners, Kamlesh Makvana and Jadeja, conceded one run in four overs between them.
Jadeja has so far only entered contention for a spot in India's limited-overs side, but has shown the ability to bat long in first-class cricket. His previous highest score was against Orissa as well - an unbeaten 232 in 2008-09 - and he had an unbeaten 170 in the Duleep Trophy semi-final last season.
KB Pawan, who did not manage a single century over eight matches last season, has started this year's Ranji Trophy with his highest score in first-class cricket - an unbeaten 251. Stuart Binny also got his highest first-class score, 151, and the two big innings gave Karnataka a total of 623 for 6 declared against Rajasthan at the Field Club Ground in Udaipur. Rajasthan, last year's champions, lost two early wickets in reply, leaving them under pressure at the end of the second day in Udaipur.
They had started the day under pressure too, with Karnataka having reached 273 for 3 by stumps on day one. But Pankaj Singh, who swung sides out for fun in the Plate League last season, got a couple of early wickets on the second morning, bowling Amit Verma for 69, and trapping CM Gautam in front for 10. Pawan, though, carried on from his 121 not out overnight, and at the other end Stuart Binny attacked. Binny, who had two centuries last season, scored his 151 at a strike-rate of 107.09, striking 23 fours and three sixes. His aggression meant Karnataka were able to lift their rate and scored 350 runs in 73.3 overs on the second day before declaring.
Deepak Chahar, the seamer who had an impressive first season last year, found the going hard in the Elite division, toiling for 42 overs for figures of 1 for 165. Rajasthan's problems were compounded when Vaibhav Deshpande, promoted to the opening slot in the absence of Aakash Chopra who is out for this game with a back spasm, was dismissed off the first ball of their innings by R Vinay Kumar. In the seventh over, their captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar perished to Abhimanyu Mithun and they ended the day on 49 for 2. Ashok Menaria, the 21-year-old allrounder of whom much is expected, has been promoted to No. 4 and will face the tough challenge of pulling his team back into the match on Saturday.
Punjab collapsed on the second morning at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, losing their last five wickets for 10 runs to finish with 350 against Uttar Pradesh. UP then got themselves to 221 for 3 and their first motive on Saturday will be to secure a first-innings lead
Punjab's remarkable slide started in the eighth over of the day, when RP Singh removed Sandeep Sharma to complete his ninth five-wicket haul in first-class cricket. In the next over Bhuvneshwar Kumar, UP's leading wicket-taker last season, took three wickets in four balls. First to go was Bipul Sharma, trapped lbw for a six-ball duck. That brought Harbhajan Singh, Punjab's captain, who was recently dropped from the India Test squad, to the crease; but he was sent straight back as Bhuvneshwar trapped him lbw too. Manpreet Gony denied Bhuvneshwar the hat-trick but was gone the ball after that, giving Bhuvneshwar figures of 4 for 82. Piyush Chawla took the last wicket and Punjab's Mandeep Singh, who had started the day on 158, was left stranded on 175.
UP lost opener Eklavya Dwivedi early to a run-out, but a century stand between Tanmay Srivastava and Mohammad Kaif steadied them. The pair were both dismissed in the 60s, but Parvinder Singh came in and got 57 not out, and he and Suresh Raina negotiated safely till stumps. Raina faces a battle to get back into India's Test squad after a poor tour of England. He did not feature in the Ranji Trophy at all last season because of international commitments but will be hoping to catch the selectors' eye with some big innings.
Mumbai's lower order backed up Rohit Sharma with steady cameos, to carry the team to 483 against Railways at the Karnail Singh Stadium. Mumbai resumed on 338 for 5 and lost Onkar Gurav in the first over of the day, to a run-out affected by Shivakant Shukla. Railways would have wanted to finish things off early after that bright start but Mumbai's tail wagged. Ankeet Chavan got 44, Ramesh Powar made 30 and Dhawal Kulkarni scored 26 not out. Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma got himself from his overnight score of 133 to 175 before being bowled by offspinner Shreyas Khanolkar, who finished the innings with figures of 5 for 78.
Railways' day got worse when they came out to bat and lost three wickets in the 23 overs they had to bat out at the end of the day. Aavishkar Salvi, the 30-year-old seamer, provided an early breakthrough, dismissing Khanolkar caught-behind. Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer did not wait long before bringing on his spinners Iqbal Abdulla and Ramesh Powar, and the offspinner Powar picked up two wickets to leave Railways in trouble at 66 for 3.
Delhi, who missed out on the quarter-finals last year after winning just one match in the group stage, have made a positive start to this season, bowling neighbours Haryana out for 293 at the Roshanara Club Ground in Delhi, and then getting to 214 for 3. Delhi had to manage without their highest wicket-taker from last year, Sumit Narwal, and would have been encouraged that their young fast bowler Pradeep Sangwan took his first five-for since the 2009-10 season. Sangwan had picked up three wickets on the first day and did not waste time wiping out the tail, finishing with 5 for 67 as Haryana could only add 37 runs to their overnight score of 256 for 7.
Delhi's opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Unmukt Chand will be carefully watched this year. Dhawan has been on the fringes of the India one-day squad, while the 18-year-old Chand's performances in the Under-19 Quadrangular series in Visakhapatnam have marked him as someone to watch for the future. They both fell within the first 15 overs however, and it was debutant Milind Kumar and the experienced Rajat Bhatia who gave Delhi control with unbeaten half-centuries. Milind, a 20-year-old batsman, had only played three List A matches and a couple of Twenty20s for Delhi before this season but remained unbeaten on 84 at the end of the second day, and will be looking for a century on Ranji debut on Saturday.
Wriddhiman Saha's unbeaten 167 took Bengal to an imposing 560 for 6 declared against Gujarat at Eden Gardens. Bengal lost Manoj Tiwary, who was on 120 not out overnight, early to Amit Singh but Laxmi Ratan Shukla settled in to keep Saha company. Shukla and Saha were involved in a record-breaking 417-run stand last season. This time they did not quite manage something of that magnitude but the 130 runs they put together helped Bengal reach a formidable position.
Shukla edged Rikin Chauhan behind on 78. Saha then strung together his third-century stand of the innings, putting on 142 - the best partnership of the three - with Saurasish Lahiri at almost five runs an over. Tiwary declared late in the day, allowing his bowlers a six-over crack at Gujarat.
Parthiv Patel and Priyank Panchal batted till stumps. Parthiv is in direct competition with Saha for the spot of India's reserve wicketkeeper and will want to match Saha's performance. Gujarat will need a remarkable effort, though, to prevent Bengal from taking first-innings point at the least.
Heavy rain prevented any play in the Tamil Nadu v Baroda match at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, for the second day running.
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