Yusuf Pathan leaves Uttar Pradesh in trouble
Baroda strengthened their position against Uttar Pradesh on the third day at the Moti Bagh Stadium in Vadodara, and will look to force a win on the fourth. Allrounder Yusuf Pathan starred with the ball yet again, grabbing four wickets to follow up on his five-for in the first innings, and restrict UP to 279 for 8 at stumps, a lead of just 160.
UP's performance with the bat in the second innings was significantly superior to the first but they will rue the fact that their batsmen didn't capitalise on starts. Opener Tanmay Srivastava made 60, the partnership for the first wicket with Digvijay Singh yielded 85 but much of the responsibility to steer the team towards a competitive lead was placed on the lower order. Bhuvneshwar Kumar contributed 55, legspinner Piyush Chawla made 36 and wicketkeeper Amir Khan remained unbeaten on 30 to help UP recover from 147 for 5. The aim for UP tomorrow will be to extend the lead past 200 and give their bowlers a target challenging enough to defend. Baroda currently top the table in Group B and a win would keep them there.
Former Tamil Nadu batsman Hemang Badani steered Haryana to a first-innings lead against Karnataka at the Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium in Rohtak. Haryana's bowlers had done the job on the first two days, bowling out Karnataka for 222, and at stumps on the second day, Haryana looked good to take the lead, finishing up on 146 for 3. But Karnataka hit back early on the third day to grab two quick wickets, including opener Nitin Saini for 64, to restrict the opposition to 156 for 5. But the lower order stepped up to support Badani, who anchored the innings with 88. A 43-run seventh-wicket stand with Sachin Rana took Haryana into the lead, the last-wicket pair of Yuzvendra Chahal and Sanjay Budhwar added 38 while the last four wickets yielded 94 runs. In their second innings, Karnataka lost opener Muralidharen Gautam for 34 and ended the day on 72 for 1, still 25 behind.
A collective bowling performance from Himachal Pradesh set up a big first innings lead and a possibility of an innings win against Punjab in Dharmasala. Seam bowling has been Himachal Pradesh's strength and in conditions traditionally favourable for swing and pace, the hosts flourished. Vikramjeet Malik and Rishi Dhawan picked up three wickets each, seamer Mohinderraj Sharma took two while former captain Ashok Thakur chipped in with one to bowl out Punjab for 229 and gain a lead of 244. Only Mandeep Singh, batting at No.7, offered any significant resistance, remaining unbeaten on 53. Himachal, looking for a win after a draw in the first game, had no hesitation enforcing the follow-on and dealt a setback, leaving Punjab on 42 for 1 at stumps.
Unless Mumbai commit hara kiri they remain favourites to score an outright win against Railways at the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai. The defending champions need a further 230 runs for the win with all ten wickets in hand. Earlier, Railways displayed plenty of grit to deny Mumbai an easy day, as they raised a modest 269 in their second innings, setting 252 for victory.
Sanjay Bangar, owner of a Test century (he played 12 Tests for India), brought his vast experience to the fore, to score a feisty 62 including a handsome straight six off Ramesh Powar. In the company of Prashant Awasthi, Bangar raised hopes of changing the script from the previous evening, when Railways had lost three wickets, and early in the day as Powar and Dhawal Kulkarni maintained tight control. But, having survived the first hour confidently, Bangar rushed into a pull against a slower one from Iqbal Abdulla, giving a simple return catch.
Though Mahesh Rawat battled with purpose, he missed out on the company of an able partner. Still, with some lusty hitting he helped himself to the highest score for the visitors in the match (76) which helped Railways to live another day. The onus would be on Murali Karti to produce a special effort to stop Mumbai from marching to victory on a pitch that is slow but not unplayable.
A first-innings score of 562 can be intimidating but Assam showed little signs of being under pressure against Bengal on the third day, responding strongly by reaching 293 for 3 at stumps at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Barring the seamer Shami Ahmed, who picked up all three wickets, the Assam batsmen negotiated the others with ease and built significant partnerships that have given them hope of overhauling the Bengal score and gaining three points based on a first-innings lead. The reply was set up by a 150-run opening stand between Dheeraj Jadhav (62) and Sibsankar Roy (89), and Amol Muzumdar, the captain, contributed 44. But the star on the third day for Assam was former Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra batsman Sridharan Sriram, whose attacking, unbeaten 89, off 112 balls, has put his team within reach of Bengal's score with seven wickets in hand. Sriram's presence at the crease will be crucial to Assam's chances if they are to walk away with three points.
Delhi reached a good position inflict an innings defeat on Gujarat at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Delhi had already gained a substantial lead by stumps on the second day and Yogesh Nagar set about extending that with his maiden first-class century. Nagar, unbeaten on 69 overnight, smashed 151, laced with 15 fours and two sixes as Delhi declared on 437 for 6, a lead of 366. In reply, Gujarat had begun well with openers Jay Desai and Priyank Panchal adding 96. But left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra struck to remove Desai for 49 while Mithun Manhas, with his part-time offspin, accounted for Niraj Patel, who had failed to score for 27 deliveries. At stumps, Gujarat had reached 114 for 2, still 254 behind.
Tamil Nadu held the advantage against Saurashtra at the end of the third day at the Khandheri Cricket Stadium in Rajkot. Abhinav Mukund, who had reached a double-century the previous day, and S Badrinath, who was unbeaten on 142 overnight, continued on, taking their team past 500. Both batsmen were dismissed before TN declared on 582 for 4, giving themselves an excellent chance of gaining a first-innings lead and even winning the game. But Saurashtra replied well, with Shitanshu Kotak and Ravindra Jadeja overcoming the early loss of the openers with half-centuries and a 93-run stand. Captain Jaydev Shah chipped in with 42 and Kotak helped take Saurashtra to 246 for 4 at stumps. They are still 346 behind and could well look to bat out the day to ensure the teams share points, but TN will back themselves to take the remaining six wickets and earn three points.