Dinda's seven not enough for Bengal
Ashok Dinda's aggressive fast bowling fetched him his maiden ten-wicket haul in a first-class match and set up a thrilling final day on which fourteen wickets fell at the Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium in Rohtak. Haryana succumbed to the accuracy and pace of Dinda to be bowled out for 169 in their second innings, setting Bengal a target of 189 from 37 overs. The visitors made a good first of the chase, but bad light stopped play 30 minutes before the scheduled end of play, at which point Bengal were 128 for 5, needing 61 runs from 54 balls. Haryana had begun the day on 42 for 1, 61 ahead of Bengal, with a draw looming. But Dinda ran through the line-up to finish with career-best figures of 7 for 44, giving him 12 for 142 for the match, also a career best. Though Bengal lost opener Arindam Das early on, the second-wicket pair of Rohan Banerjee and Abhishk Jhunjunwalla injected the required urgency into the chase with a 55-run stand before Sourav Ganguly cracked a brisk 22-ball 21 that included the only six of the innings to set up what looked like exciting finish until the light decided to play spoilsport.
Bengal have five points from three games, while Haryana are slightly better off, in fifth place with eight points from four. Bengal had missed a golden opportunity to overtake Haryana's first-innings score on Thursday by the small margin of 19 runs when their lower order folded in feeble fashion. Dinda summed up the hurt in the dressing room: "I am happy with my effort but I can't forget that we fell short,"
In Delhi, the fast bowling pair of Parvinder Awana and Ashish Nehra rattled Baroda with speed and movement at the Feroz Shah Kotla, sharing the final six wickets, to help the hosts to a ten-wicket victory. Baroda resumed on 81 for 4, still trailing Delhi's first-innings score by 16. On the final day, Nehra picked up three quick wickets: the engine room of Baroda's batting in Rakesh Solanki, Pinal Shah and Ambati Rayudu, who played with a swollen thumb. Awana, who had taken two wickets on Thursday , then polished off the lower order and the tail to pick his fourth five-for of his career. Baroda had been shot out inside 20 overs on the final morning and a target of 48 runs was knocked by the Delhi openers easily. The six points (including the bonus) helped Delhi register their first outright win of the season and jump atop Group B.
Awana later told the Indian Express that during the IPL, Shaun Pollock, the Mumbai Indians' consultant, had told him not to give up on bowling fast and to "develop" his fast bowling muscles. He also thanked Nehra, who finished with nine wickets, for inspiring hims. "Ashish bhai bowling with so much of effort spurred me a lot. He told me to keep bowling my heart out and the wickets will flow."
Udit Birla's maiden first-class fifty, in his third match, helped Madhya Pradesh register a five-wicket win over Gujarat on a final day devoid of drama at the Emerald High School Ground in Indore. MP began the day needing 91 to win, with six wickets in hand on a pitch that had offered the seamers good purchase on the previous three days. The overnight pair of Abbas Ali and Harpreet Singh started confidently before Ishwar Chaudhary induced an edge from Ali. The 22-year-old Birla then took charge of the chase - MP were 70 runs away from victory when he came in, and he scored 52 of them.
"It was my third match and it's a special feeling to score [my] maiden Ranji fifty in a winning cause," Birla told The Times of India.
Niraj Patel, Gujarat's captain, did not hide his disappointment, though he praised his fast bowlers. "Our top-order did not stand up and be counted on both the occasions. However, I am really pleased with our bowling and fielding efforts."
Madhya Pradesh are tied on eight points with Baroda, Tamil Nadu and Haryana, but they have played three games to Baroda and Haryana's four.
It took Mumbai an hour to bundle out Orissa at the DRIEMS Ground in Cuttack and secure an easy innings-and-210 runs win. Orissa began the final day on 163 for 7, and lost Basant Mohanty off the second ball of the day for 41. The dismissal gave Ramesh Powar his 23rd first-class five-for. The last two wickets put up brief resistance, with partnerships of 41 and 22, but Mumbai eventually bowled out Orissa for 226 with plenty of time to spare. Zaheer Khan, who bowled 22 overs in the entire match, picking four wickets, did not bowl at all on the final morning. The six points Mumbai take from the match put them at the top of Group A, while Orissa are still at rock bottom.
Coach Sulakshan Kulkarni praised his team for not getting distracted following Ajit Agarkar's decision to head back to Mumbai on the first day of the match because he was not included in the playing eleven. "We did not expect it to be so easy, for Orissa have been in the Elite division for some years now, and have scored well in excess of 400 in their last two matches," Kulkarni said. "So their collapse came as a bit of a surprise. But then, a victory is a victory. Our bowlers bowled beautifully. Our batsmen, particularly Kaustubh Pawar and Suryakumar Yadav, set the tone of the match by posting a big total. It was total team effort."
Aakash Chopra celebrated going past 10,000 first-class runs on the third day by converting his start into a century on the fourth, to help Rajasthan earn a draw against Uttar Pradesh at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Rajasthan were made to follow on and started the fourth day still 127 runs behind. Chopra and Vineet Saxena took their opening stand from 91 to 166, with Chopra registering his 28th first-class century of his career. Uttar Pradesh bowlers were finding it hard to create any sort of impact on a lifeless pitch. Robin Bist, who had got a century in Mumbai, took advantage of the bowlers' predicament, scoring exactly 100 not out as Rajasthan reached 349 for 2, enough to earn a point. Rajasthan have managed just one point from each of their four games now, while UP have taken three from each of their games.
Karnataka secured three points for the first-innings lead against Saurashtra at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. Saurashtra started the day on 179 for 5, facing Karnataka's 503. It was a question of how long they could bat; they lasted 49 overs - not enough to deny Karnataka three points but just about enough to avoid an outright loss. S Aravind dismissed Pratik Mehta in the second over, but veteran Shitanshu Kotak and Sandip Maniar batted time to prevent a collapse. Kotak, one of the more determined dead-bat batsman in domestic cricket, was let off in the very first over of the day by Stuart Binny in the slips and then again by KB Pavan in the eighth over. He stuck on for the next two hours, virtually snatching Karnataka's hopes of an outright victory. Aravind eventually dismissed Maniar and offspinner Sunil Raju took a wicket to finish with four in the innings.
Though the hosts picked three quick wickets in Saurashtra second innings, Cheteshwar Pujara made a patient, unbeaten 52 to ensure there was no collapse.
Punjab's lower order made handy contributions to prevent Railways from making a comeback at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali. The hosts had started the day 144 runs ahead but were four wickets down in their second innings. They slipped to 83 for 6 on the fourth day and needed the lower order to step up to avoid giving Railways a gettable target. Amitoze Singh scored 68, Mayank Sidhana got 49, and Manpreet Gony smashed 45 off 39 balls including two sixes. That took Punjab to 242 for 9. They declared and left Railways with 35.3 overs to bat, which they negotiated thanks to Sanjay Bangar's unbeaten 77. Punjab took three points from the game to go to fourth in the table.