Kaushik rips through Maharashtra
J Kaushik ran through the Maharashtra middle and lower order on the second morning at Chepauk, and Tamil Nadu's top order then put their team in control by stumps. Kaushik, a 26-year-old medium-pacer in his debut season, had received praise from his captain L Balaji before the game, and showed why with a five-wicket haul that sent Maharashtra crashing from 204 for 4 overnight to 232 all out. Kaushik struck with the first ball of the morning, dismissing SD Atitkar caught-behind. His third over of the morning brought three wickets: Kedar Jadhav and Ajinkya Joshi were caught in the slips off consecutive balls, and then Akshay Darekar was dismissed in similar fashion off the last ball of the over.
A few overs later, Kaushik completed his maiden five-wicket haul in first-class cricket by bowling No. 11 Samad Fallah. After having set a base on the first day, Maharashtra had collapsed. Tamil Nadu's batsmen took advantage. Abhinav Mukund, the second-highest run-getter in the Elite division this season, and M Vijay put together an opening stand of 173 to flatten the visitors. There was some respite as the two were dismissed in quick succession but S Badrinath settled in and finished the day on 35 not out with Tamil Nadu 259 for 3.
Abhinav fell short of what would have been his third hundred of the season, getting trapped lbw by Ajinkya Joshi on 95, and Vijay fell to Akshay Darekar for 79. Despite those two wickets Maharashtra are staring at a big first-innings deficit unless they can affect a collapse on the third morning similar to the one Kaushik affected today.
Aakash Chopra and Dishant Yagnik completed centuries on the second day at Uppal to build an imposing total of 421 for Rajasthan. By the end of the day Hyderabad had slipped to 35 for 2. Chopra and Yagnik had begun a recovery act on the first day, rescuing their team from 129 for 5 to finish the day 220 for 5. On the second day, they seized control, extending the sixth-wicket stand to 185 runs. Chopra completed his second century of the tournament, and went on to get 142, an innings that took 450 balls and included just 42 runs from fours and sixes.
Yagnik, Rajasthan's wicketkeeper, got his maiden first-class century, also taking his time on the way to 101. Contributions from Vivek Yadav and Pankaj Singh down the order further frustrated Hyderabad, who were kept in the field for 167.1 overs. Debutant left-arm spinner Mehdi Hasan finished with 5 for 62 but the rest of the bowlers struggled to pick up wickets.
Hyderabad's batsmen then had to negotiate an awkward ten-over spell at the end of the day, and each of Rajasthan's new-ball bowlers, Pankaj Singh and Sumit Mathur, found success. Akshath Reddy was dismissed by Pankaj for 12 and T Suman was bowled by Mathur for a nine-ball duck. Hyderabad now face an uphill climb on the final two days.
On another eventful day in Bangalore, which saw fifteen wickets fall, Karnataka won the first session, then gave away the middle one to Haryana, and just when it seemed like they had bounced back after tea lost their top order, giving the visitors a slight edge at the halfway stage of the quarter-final contest. Click here for the full report of the day's action.
Kaustubh Pawar rescued Mumbai from a precarious position with a fiercely-determined century and along with the lower order, all but batted Madhya Pradesh out of the Ranji Trophy. Mumbai had begun the day 122 runs behind MP with only five wickets remaining, but Pawar showed tremendous character in grinding out his second hundred in his debut season at a time Mumbai desperately needed someone to bail them out. Click here for the full report of the day's action.