Haryana lead despite Ganguly ton
Thrust with the captaincy against Haryana, Sourav Ganguly rose to the occasion with his first first-class century in two years, but a late collapse meant Bengal conceded a 19-run first-innings lead at the Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium. While four of the top six Bengal batsmen had strike-rates in the twenties or lower, Ganguly did not allow himself to be tied down, smashing 20 fours and a solitary six in his 135, with a strike-rate of 75.84. At 317 for 5, Bengal looked set to overhaul Haryana's total of 358, but Laxmi Ratan Shukla was bowled by Amit Mishra for 28 and his wicket sparked a collapse. The rest of the line-up folded for the addition of just 22 runs, including Ganguly, who was the ninth wicket to fall.
Ganguly was reportedly furious and blamed his batsmen for not being able to support him and even singled out Shukla, a former Bengal captain, for throwing his wicket. "He was very upset and didn't say a word about his innings in the dressing room," Atanu Ghosh, the Bengal team manager, told The Indian Express. Haryana lost Rahul Dewan early but there were no further casualties as they reached 42 for 1 at the close, with the overall lead of 61.
Haryana lost Rahul Dewan early but there were no further casualties as they reached 42 for 1 at the close.
Ramesh Power picked up four second-innings wickets as Mumbai closed in on a comfortable innings victory over Orissa at the DRIEMS Ground in Cuttack. Resuming on their overnight score of 57 for 7, Orissa did not manage to get to triple figures, succumbing for 93. India seamer Zaheer Khan, who is returning from injury and trying to get in shape for the tour of Australia, picked up two more wickets to finish with 3 for 31.
Zaheer would go on to pick another wicket with one of the best deliveries of the day - a climbing delivery that opened up a surprising Bipal Samantray who could only watch the ball take an edge and land in the hands of Wasim Jaffer at second slip. Zaheer bowled in short spells through the day, clocking 130-135 kph, mostly trying to hit the right lengths, which even impressed the Orissa coach, and former India seamer, Debasish Mohanty. "He was bending his back fully in the final spell. He is ready for Australia," Mohanty told the Hindustan Times.
Things would not get much better for Orissa during their second go-around. Abhishek Nayar removed both openers early, before Powar spun out the middle order. At 104 for 7 and over 30 overs remaining, it looked like the match would not go into the final day, but Besant Mohanty and Lagnajit Samal resisted for over two hours in the process of adding an unbeaten 59 for the eighth wicket. Samal was intent on survival - his 14 came off 105 deliveries - while Mohanty was more aggressive, reaching 41 from 96 balls, with seven fours and a six.
Orissa still trail by 273 runs though, and with only three wickets remaining, Mumbai should wrap up the win with time to spare.
Defending Ranji Trophy champions Rajasthan were forced to follow-on in their game against Uttar Pradesh after being hustled out for 274 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. The home side looked to be in little trouble at 143 for2 when Rashmi Parida was trapped in front by Indian fast bowler RP Singh, ending a 110-run partnership with Robin Bist. Wickets fell at regular intervals after that as Rajasthan's batsmen failed to build momentum. Ashok Menaria made a battling 57, studded with 11 fours, but there was little else of note from the lower middle order. Piyush Chawla and Bhuvneshwar Kumar did most of the damage, taking four and three wickets respectively.
Rajasthan made a better start in their second innings, the openers adding 91 unbeaten runs together, with Aakash Chopra completing a half-century. During his knock of 57, Chopra went past 10,000 first-class runs. Rajasthan need another 127 runs to make UP bat again.
Puneet Bisht racked up his maiden first-class double-century to give Delhi a crucial 97-run first-innings lead over Baroda at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. At one stage the home side were 74 for 5, but Baroda had no answer for Bisht's relentless accumulation. The Delhi No.7 smashed 30 fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 223, accounting for 53.73% of his side's total. The next best score was Mithun Manas's 49. Bisht added 67 with Sunny Sehrawat (27) for the seventh wicket, 56 with India seamer Ashish Nehta (23) for the eighth and 67 with last man Vikas Mishra at the rollicking rate of 5.74 runs an over. Such was Bisht's dominance by then that Mishra's contribution to their partnership was a mere 2 from 20 balls.
Irfan Pathan picked up two more wickets to finish with 7 for 114, while Bhargav Bhatt took 2 for 63. Baroda got off to a rocky start in their second innings, losing both openers to Parvinder Awana with just 28 on the board. Rajat Bhatia then struck twice towards the end of the day, removing Shatrunjay Gaekwad and Swapnil Singh, to leave Baroda tottering on 81 for 4, still trailing by 16 runs with one day to go.
Bharat Chipli, playing his first first-class match after three years, crowned his return to the Karnataka side with his highest first-class score, allowing his side to declare at 503 for 7, before the bowlers removed half the Saurashtra batting line-up to give Karnataka a good chance of claiming the three points on offer for a first-innings lead at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. Chipli scored a brisk pace, his 159 coming off 194 balls, and struck 18 fours and three sixes. He was well supported by Stuart Binny, who made 57. Sandip Maniar was the best of the bowlers, taking 4 for 125.
Opener Chirag Pathak led Saurashtra's reply, grinding his way to 95 before he was unfortunately run-out in the last hour of the day. Cheteswhar Pujara, playing his first match of the season after a six-month lay-off due to knee injury, got a life on 9 but failed to make any use, caught at short leg by Chipli off offspinner Sunil Raju. Raju, playing his first match of the season, picked three wickets. The the visitors were 324 runs by the close.
Pratharesh Parmar's half-century allowed Gujarat to set Madhya Pradesh a potentially challenging target of 198 for victory in a low-scoring game at the Emerald High School Ground in Indore. The hosts managed 107 for 4 by the close, and need another 91 to win on the final day. Resuming on 133 for 5, only 58 ahead, Parmar, who made 65, guided Gujarat's lower order, stitching together partnerships for 61 for the seventh wicket with Salil Yadav (35) and 42 for the eighth with Mehul Patel (25), before he became TP Sudhindra's fifth victim. Sudhindra would add Faisal Dudhat's wicket as well, giving him figures of 6 for 60 in the innings and 9 for 93 in the match, as Gujarat ended with 272,the highest score of the match. MP started slowly in the chase, losing Jalaj Saxena without scoring and Mohnish Mishra soon after, before Naman Ohja and Devendra Bundela steadied the innings. Both men fell before the close, however, leaving the match still in the balance.
On a pitch that has assisted the seamers throughout, Gujarat captain Niraj Patel did not rule out an exciting finish. "It's a true wicket for bowlers. Our pacers will have to stick to their spot-on bowling if we have to win the match," he told The Times of India.
Manpreet Gony and Harmeet Singh combined to take nine wickets and give Punjab a 93-run first-innings lead over Railways at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali. Gony took 5 for 91, while Harmeet picked up 4 for 54. It could have been a lot worse for Railways, who had slumped to 98 for 7 but Ashish Yadav and captain Sanjay Bangar added 113 before Yadav added a further 62 with Krishnakant Upadhyay. Yadav topscored with 86, while Bangar made 82. Punjab stuttered in their second-innings, losing quick wickets to end the day on 51 for 4, giving them a lead of 144.