Andhra and Maharashtra make semi-finals
Andhra sealed a semi-finals berth with an innings victory over Kerala at the Rural Development Trust Stadium in Anantapur. K Rakesh's 72 not out pushed the game into the last session on the fourth day, but Andhra seamer P Vijaykumar mopped up the tail and finished with figures of 5 for 51 in the second innings. Andhra needed seven wickets to complete a win after a dominant performance on the second and third day. They got the first two within the first two overs on Saturday, with Sairaj Bahutule and D Kalyankrishna getting a wicket each. Rakesh's effort then blunted them for a while, but could not deny them the win as Kerala were bowled out for 235.
Maharashtra reached the semi-finals by finishing a point ahead of Services despite conceding the first-innings lead to them at the Harbax Singh Stadium in Delhi. Services began the day 40 behind, and went on rack up a 175-run lead, thanks to their captain Yashpal Sharma's unbeaten 203. He was supported by another Services stalwart, 36-year-old Sarabjit Singh, who made 75 as the pair added 175 for the sixth wicket. With Andhra winning, Services only chance of qualifying was an outright victory, but on a flat track, there was little hope of that and they delayed their declaration till Yashpal reached his double-century. Maharasthra had half the day to bat out, which they did comfortably, racing to 166 for 1 in 37 overs on the back of opener Nikhil Paradkar's unbeaten 76.
In the clash between the two laggards of the group, Vidarbha claimed their first victory of the season, but were made to work hard for it by the Jammu & Kashmir tail in Jammu. Vidarbha needed four wickets at the start of the day and J&K had to make 42 more to avoid an innings defeat, an ignominy they easily avoided due to Hardeep Singh's maiden first-class century. The tail added 140 runs, setting Vidarbha a target of 99, which they knocked off in 26.3 overs with Ravi Jangid helping himself to a brisk 51.
Rajasthan fell short of their third win of the campaign but weren't too concerned as they still finished top of the group. They had a target of 27 after bowling out Jharkhand for 211 in Udaipur but there was no time left for Rajasthan to bat again. The match seemed headed for a dull draw after Jharkhand opener Aakash Verma's 61 pushed them to 100 for 1 in 36 overs, before slumping to 150 for 7. Legspinner Vivek Yadav started the collapse by removing Verma, and Deepak Chahar, who shot to fame with his eight-for on debut when Hyderbad sunk to 21 all out earlier this season, then took three wickets in nine deliveries to leave Jharkhand reeling. Shiv Gautam battled to a patient 48 to consume enough overs to prevent defeat.
Madhya Pradesh also reached the semi-finals after their match against Hyderabad predictably ended in a draw at the Gymkhana ground in Hyderabad. With the first innings still nowhere near completion at the start of the fourth day, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Hyderabad resumed from 168 for 4 in their reply to MP's 422 for 4 declared, and went on to reach 286 for 6 before the match was called off. The result left Hyderabad fourth in the group and consigned them to another season in the Plate Division.
Tripura had the satisfaction of finishing off a forgettable season with a victory, cruising to a seven-wicket win over Goa in Porvorim. Four defeats in the first four matches meant they were destined for the bottom spot, but they didn't have too much trouble finishing off Goa on the final day. Tripura snatched a wicket off the first over, and took the last one soon after to be left chasing 99 for victory. Thirties from Rajib Saha and Nishit Shetty confirmed the victory in 23.3 overs. Goa began the match with hopes of qualifying for the next round, but had to be content with third place after the defeat.
|Jammu & Kashmir||5||0||4||0||1||0||1||0.497||2377/97||2516/51|