Determined Assam hold Tamil Nadu at bay
Assam had their best day of their match against Tamil Nadu at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, to give themselves some chance at salvaging a draw. The visitors pegged TN back in the first session with Ranjitkumar Mali running through the lower middle-order to spark a collapse. Srikkanth Anirudha once again succumbed to his inability to convert fifties into hundreds and he was out for 95, soon after his overnight partner R Satish departed for 74. TN stumbled from 300 for 4 to 346 for 9 before declaring their innings. Their best chance of victory was to skittle Assam out and push for an innings defeat, but a doughty 87 from former local S Sriram scuppered their hopes. L Balaji was the most incisive of TN's bowlers, picking 2 for 14 in his miserly 10-over spell as Assam held on to finish the day three runs short of wiping away the deficit with six wickets in hand.
Uttar Pradesh's tail, led by Praveen Kumar, ensured their side got the first-innings lead against Punjab before their bowlers put the visitors under pressure in the second innings at the Bhamashah Stadium in Meerut. Resuming 67 behind, with five wickets remaining, UP's pursuit for the lead was initially driven by Bhuvneshwar Kumar's 35. Seamer Navdeep Sidhu created a few problems, making three significant dents in the UP line-up to leave them 10 short with just two wickets remaining. Praveen smashed three sixes in his 43 and ensured that his side got well ahead, as the last two wickets raised 91 to frustrate Punjab. The visitors lost further ground in the second innings against the seamers, and were in some strife at 59 for 4, with their star batsman, Yuvraj Singh, failing to make an impression. Uday Kaul and Pankaj Dharmani put their heads down to clear the deficit with a 68-run stand, and take their side 53 ahead by stumps.
Govind Podder, the 19-year-old middle-order batsman, completed his maiden first-class ton in Cuttack as Orissa tightened the screws against a Baroda side that showed more gumption than they did in the first innings. Podder, 70 overnight, pushed Orissa along to 239 before his exit, and Biplab Samantray ensured they would have a substantial lead with his half-century. Seamers Murtuja Vahora and Ajitesh Argal picked three wickets apiece as Orissa were bowled out for 352. Needing 202 runs to avoid an innings defeat, Baroda's openers Connor Williams and Jaykishan Kolsawala batted cautiously to add 73 in 26.5 overs. Kolsawala departed with stumps in sight, but Williams held on along with night-watchman Argal, with Baroda still 122 runs adrift.
Pratik Mehta's unbeaten, maiden first-class century, twelve years since his debut, kept Saurashtra alive against Mumbai at the Bandra-Kurla Complex. With one day remaining, the visitors were 66 adrift of the follow-on mark with three wickets in hand. Not an easy task, especially given the manner in which Ramesh Powar imposed himself on the third day to grab his 22nd first-class five-wicket haul, trapping Rakesh Dhurv three deliveries before the close of play.
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Day three of the clash between Delhi and Bengal the Feroz Shah Kotla was a game of two halves. One which belonged to Virat Kohli, and the other to Bengal who found an immovable object suddenly shift an inch and then didn't stop pushing. At stumps, Delhi were 328 for 6, still trailing Bengal's first innings total of 473 - and precious points - by 145 runs. They have two old school types at the wicket, Rajat Bhatia, who has played first-class cricket with the focus and enthusiasm of an Energiser bunny and Sumit Narwal, the bowler who saved them much face yesterday. What Bengal have now is belief, that they can turn Delhi's innate swagger into a stumble.
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Railways succumbed to a meagre 221 in their first-innings, eight short of the follow-on mark, and were 54 for 1 in their second innings as they fought for a draw against Gujarat at the Karnail Singh Stadium in Delhi. Railways had little to cheer on the third day, barring Yere Goud's determined 50 off 197 balls that spanned nearly five hours at the crease. There was brief support from Jai Prakash Yadav and TP Singh who made 30s, but Railways needed something more substantial. Ishwar Choudhary and Salil Yadav got among the wickets, each picking up three, before Gujarat enforced the follow-on. Opener Faiz Fazal fell cheaply in the second innings, but V Cheluvaraj and Sanjay Bangar resisted Gujarat after his exit, adding 43 in 31.1 overs of determined crease-occupation.
Himachal Pradesh put up a disappointing show with the bat to concede the first-innings lead against Haryana at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala. Resuming at a strong 85 for 2, still 231 runs shy of Haryana's effort, Himachal crumbled against seamer Sanjay Budhwar, who completed his fourth first-class five-wicket haul. Himachal were always going to struggle after the early exit of their overnight half-centurion Bhavin Thaker. There was scant resistance from the lower order as Joginder Sharma and Sunny Singh supported Budhwar to dismiss Himachal for 206. Nitin Saini struck an unbeaten 61 in the second innings as Haryana, with the first-innings points in the kitty, batted more fluently than they did on the first two days. They finished the day at 132 for 2, an overall lead of 242.