Tamil Nadu win season opener
Sunil Sam took four wickets to cut through Assam's middle and lower order in the second innings and set up a chase for Tamil Nadu's batsmen, who responded by completing an outright victory with seven wickets in hand at at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Tamil Nadu needed to play urgently to force a result and had to dislodge Assam's overnight pair of S Sriram and Tarjinder Singh early on the final day. They added 71 more runs, however, and Sriram reached a century before he was bowled for 121 by R Ashwin. The collapse began after that and Assam lost their last five batsmen for 34 runs. Tarjinder was the last man out, for 99. Sam finished with 4 for 56 as Assam were shot out for 281. Tamil Nadu needed 120 to win outright and their openers Abhinav Mukund and S Anirudha added 65. They suffered a minor hiccup, losing two batsmen on 65, but Anirudha's 48 ensured the home side earned five points from their season opener.
Having already conceded a first-innings lead, Punjab's middle order used the final day for batting practice against Uttar Pradesh in in Meerut. The overnight batsmen, Uday Kaul and Pankaj Dharmani, went on to make 74 and 135 not out. Kaul was bowled by Piyush Chawla, ending a 130-run partnership, but Dharmani found another steady partner in Vishwas Bhalla. They added 141 for the sixth wicket, with Bhalla contributing 76. Only two wicket fell on the last day as Punjab finished on 354 for 6.
Ambati Rayudu, playing his first match for Baroda, scored an unbeaten double-century which prevented Orissa from pushing for victory in Cuttack. Having already secured first-innings points, the hosts would have harboured hopes of an outright win because Baroda trailed by 122 with nine wickets in hand. Those hopes would have lifted when Connor Williams and Rakesh Solanki fell with the score on 164. Both batsmen were dismissed by Dhiraj Singh and Baroda, still trailing, had only six second-innings wickets remaining. Rayudu, however, rallied with 27 fours and three sixes in his innings of 200 off 255 balls. The game was called off soon after he reached the landmark.
Mumbai might have earned three points from a first-innings lead against Saurashtra but they were the first to object to playing on such an ineffective surface at the Bandra-Kurla Complex which, they said, had robbed them of an outright victory. For more on this match, click here.
A drawn Ranji Trophy match is usually an exercise in tedium, especially if a television screen close by is showing Virender Sehwag carving up slices of Motera as though it was pizza. Hundreds of kilometers away from Ahmedabad, the Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi and Bengal were engaged in a bitter tussle for the better part of a day. While the contest wasn't gripping, it was between equals. The game was eventually and predictably drawn and it was the unfashionable Bengal team that left Delhi with bruised ego, limb and three points from their Ranji Trophy season opener. For more on this match, click here.
On the final day at the Karnail Singh Stadium in Delhi, Railways' batsmen wiped out the deficit of 104 and took a lead in their follow-on against Gujarat before the game ended in a draw. They started the day on 54 for 1 and V Cheluvaraj and Sanjay Bangar reached half-centuries during their 94-run partnership. Wickets began to fall at regular intervals after they were separated but Railways managed to draw level with Gujarat with five wickets in hand. They finished the day on 246 for 8, 88 runs ahead.
Himachal Pradesh fared better in the second innings, reaching 168 for 2, after conceding first-innings points to Haryana in their season opener in Dharmasala. Sangram Singh and Vinit Indulkar made 89 and 62 not out but they were chasing an improbable target of 360 after a steady second-innings performance from Haryana's batsmen. The visitors had resumed on the final morning on 132 for 2. Nitin Saini missed his century, falling for 92, but Manav Sharma reached his half-century and was unbeaten on 51 when his captain, Rahul Dewan, declared on 249 for 5.