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December 23, 2011
Medium-pacer Rituraj Singh, playing only his second first-class match, took 6 for 75 to bowl Rajasthan to victory by an innings and 56 runs against Orissa in Jaipur. The result significantly boosted the defending champions' chances of making the quarter-finals for the second year in a row. Orissa began the day on 76 for 6 and, though Deepak Behera and Govind Podder extended their partnership to 69, once Pankaj Singh removed Behera for 27, the end came swiftly. Sumit Mathur picked up two more wickets to finish with 5 for 30 as Orissa were bundled out for 134 in their first innings. Hrishikesh Kanitkar, the Rajasthan captain, enforced the follow-on in the quest to register an innings victory, which could fetch the bonus point necessary to keep their knockout chances alive.
It was not going to be a smooth journey, though. Subhrajit Sahoo, who made 55, and Biplap Samantray, with 82, offered resistance against Rajasthan's three-pronged pace attack. Rituraj, however, had Samantray caught behind and two overs later removed Abhilash Mallick in similar fashion to start the slide. Orissa lost their last five wickets for only 27 runs.
The win, Rajasthan's second in two weeks, gave them six points - sixteen in total - and took them to third spot in the group. Even if Saurashtra, who had an exciting victory against Railways, had same number of outright victories and points as Rajasthan, the defending champions had a better run quotient (total runs against total wickets). Rajashtan's quotient of 0.984 was a shade higher than Saurashtra'a 0.925.
If Uttar Pradesh fail to beat Karnataka, Rajasthan will make the quarterfinals because they have more wins. The only way UP can pip Rajasthan is by beating Karnataka.
Saurashtra beat Railways by 97 runs at the Karnail Singh Stadium. After the carnage of the first two days, when 36 wickets fell, expecting Railways to mount a rearguard action with only four wickets in hand was always going to be more fantasy than reality. It only took 70 minutes for Saurashtra to finish the job. Ravindara Jadeja added four wickets to his kitty to finish with a ten-wicket match haul. For Railways, M Suresh had offered some hope but he could add just three runs to his overnight score before becoming Sandip Maniar's lone wicket of the innings. Maniar had bowled only three overs across the match on a pitch where spinners reigned supreme. Jadeja then knocked over the last three wickets, including that of Ashish Yadav, who top scored with 50.
"We are in a group where six of the eight teams have won the Ranji Trophy in the last 10 years. But for this game we played hard cricket," said Abhay Sharma, the Railways coach.
Half-centuries from Nitin Saini and Priyank Tehlan shifted the momentum Haryana's way against Gujarat in Surat. Saini anchored the innings, batting for three hours to make 91. He was initially well supportd by Rahul Dewan (42) and Sunny Singh (40), but his dismissal began a period in which Haryana lost four wickets for 33 runs, two of them being run-outs. Tehlan and Amit Mishra wrested the initiative, however, adding 127 runs to take their side to 321 for 6, a lead of exactly 300. Tehlan's 85 contained 12 fours and a six, while Mishra was more circumspect, taking 106 balls for his 39.
Haryana's declaration left Gujarat 12 overs to face before the close, which proved to be enough time for medium-pacer Harshal Patel to have opener Priyanka Panchal caught behind for 10. Gujarat ended the day on 34 for 1, needing 267 more for victory.
Having already conceded the first-innings lead, Haryana need an outright win to avoid being relegated to the Plate League next year. However, should they pull off the victory and Baroda finish second to Bengal, Haryana will also qualify for the quarter-finals. If Gujarat lose the match, they will be relegated instead.
A career-best 111 from Anustup Majumdar, and 99 from Laxmi Ratan Shukla, set up Bengal's total of 390 before Ashok Dinda took three wickets to leave Baroda reeling at 103 for 5, still trailing by three runs at the Moti Bagh Stadium in Vadodara. Bengal began the day needing 21 to take a crucial first-innings lead and Majumdar and Shukla first took them past Baroda's total of 284 and then past 300. Majumdar was eventually caught of Sankalp Vohra for 111. Shukla added a further 51 with Sourav Sarkar before being bowled by Swapnil Singh one short of his hundred.
Faced with a deficit of 106, Baroda got off to the horror start, with Dinda removing both openers in his first over with only a run on the board. Rakesh Solanki battled to his half-century, but wickets fell consistently at the other end. Dinda picked up a third wicket when he bowled Pinal Shah for 10. Irfan Solanki was on 55 and Irfan Pathan on 4 at stumps.
If Haryana beat Gujarat, Baroda will need a a draw to qualify for the quarter-finals.
A defiant 98 from Zafar Ali could not prevent Tamil Nadu from taking a 197-run first-innings lead as Madhya Pradesh was dismissed for 289 in Chennai. Ali was the seventh wicket to fall, having faced 291 deliveries, but he received little support from the rest of the line-up. Jalaj Saxena made 43 but the next highest contributor was extras, with 38. Five bowlers shared the wickets, with Jangannathan Kaushik the pick of the bunch, taking 3 for 48 from 21 overs. Tamil Nadu then extended their lead to 227 by the close, but lost Abhinav Mukund and S Badrinath in the process, while M Vijay was forced to retire hurt. Dinesh Karthik, who made a century in the first innings, was unbeaten on 14.
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