Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu go through to semis
Hyderabad finished their Ranji Trophy campaign on a bright note but it was Rajasthan who had greater reason to celebrate at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, having qualified for the semi-finals of the competition for the second straight season. The final day didn't belong to the defending champions but they had virtually shut out their opponents after gaining a massive first-innings lead and bowling Hyderabad out for 144 in the first innings.
After following on, the Hyderabad openers, Dwaraka Ravi Teja and Akshath Reddy made merry, smashing big hundreds. Captain Ravi Teja made 185, striking 12 fours, and Reddy made 151, hitting 14 fours and four sixes. The pair scored at a healthy pace, adding 275 for the opening wicket in 74 overs. T Suman came in after the fall of the first wicket and belted 59 in 51 balls and Hyderabad declared on 431 for 2, setting Rajasthan a target of 155 and with the hope of causing a collapse that might force an outright result.
That didn't happen, however, as the Rajasthan openers progressed at a snail's pace, seeing off 20 overs, scoring just 25 runs without less before the game ended. The defending champions went through to the semi-finals on the basis of a first-innings lead, and they'll take on Haryana in Rohtak on January 10.
Hyderabad, though, made their way to the knockout stage from the Plate League and will begin the next season in the Elite League.
Tamil Nadu confirmed their place in the semi-final by way of a first-innings lead against Maharashtra at Chepauk. The final day was largely inconsequential, though the Maharashtra openers Harshad Khadiwale and Chirag Khurana helped themselves to centuries. But TN were always favourites to go through, having gained a first-innings lead of 183. Kedar Jadhav scored a half-century and Maharashtra declared on 322 for 4 in 93 overs, setting TN a target of 140. The hosts finished with 45 for 1 in 14 overs before the game ended.
TN made the semis last year as well but were stopped short by Rajasthan, who went on to win the competition. This year, they will face powerhouses Mumbai in Mumbai. Centuries from Mohnish Mishra and Devendra Bundela helped Madhya Pradesh end their campaign on a good note, but Mumbai, with a significant first-innings lead, ensured they went through to the semis. Read the full report of the contest in Indore here.