Seamers shine as Delhi, Karnataka complete wins
Karnataka's seamers overcame a display of spirited defiance from Himachal Pradesh's Paras Dogra and Manvinder Bisla in Dharmasala to surge to their third win in four games, keeping them on top of Group B. Resuming his overnight 101-run stand with Dogra, Bisla could not last long on the final morning and was trapped in front by Sreenath Arvind for 58. Rishi Dhawan gave Himachal some hope, striking four fours in his 20 that raised hopes of an upset, but Aravind accounted for him with Himachal still 87 shy of the target. Dogra's dismissal, giving Abhimanyu Mithun his fourth first-class five-for, was the last nail in the coffin, as Karnataka completed a 67-run win.
Punjab pushed for an outright victory against Orissa at the East Coast Railway Sports Association in Bhubaneswar, but Natraj Behera and Niranjan Behera held on to ensure that the visitors got only three points. Resuming their first innings at 216 for 7, Orissa folded up for 264, with Manpreet Gony and Sarabjit Ladda finished with four-wicket hauls. With a first-innings lead of 286, Punjab enforced the follow-on but were stone-walled for 58 overs by the determined Orissa top-order. Paresh Patel departed for 27 before the Beheras added 67 off 31 overs to blunt Punjab's attack. Natraj was fluent in his 81 that came off 129 balls, while Niranjan consumed 133 balls for his 50. He held fort after Nartaj's exit and saw Orissa through to stumps for a creditable draw, but they still remained bottom of Group B.
Pawan Suyal was once again Assam's bugbear, adding six wickets to his four in the first innings to climb to second in the tournament's highest wicket-takers' list and give Delhi their first win of the season, at the Roshanara Club Ground. Dheeraj Jadhav, who had blunted the home attack in a stubborn 42 on the third day, continued his effort into the final day to give the visitors hopes of a draw. He extended his overnight partnership with Gokul Sharma to 129, before Suyal began to take control of the match. Sumit Narwal added to Orissa's woes at the other end as their lower order collapsed in a heap, losing 7 for 22. Suyal finished with 6 for 71, giving him his first first-class ten-for, while Narwal picked up three. Chasing 59 for the win, Delhi cantered home despite losing three cheap wickets, putting them behind Mumbai in Group A.
Railways picked up first-innings points after bowling Saurashtra out for 338, despite stumbling to 107 for 6 in their second innings before stumps were drawn at the Khandheri Cricket Stadium in Rajkot. Overnight batsmen Pratik Mehta and Kamlesh Makvana carried Saurashrtra's hopes of wiping out the deficit, but neither could press on after lengthy and cautious vigils at the crease. Jai Prakash Yadav was the hero for Railways, finishing with 6 for 96 after 47 overs of medium-pace. Faiz Fazal scored an unbeaten 43, but wickets fell all around him in Railways' second innings, which had no bearing on the result or the points scored - both sides remain winless and at the bottom of Group A after five rounds.
Only seven minutes and two overs of play were possible on the final day between Bengal and Tamil Nadu at the India Cement Limited Guru Nanak College Ground in Chennai, as Sourav Ganguly's eagerly anticipated comeback to first-class cricket ended in a rain-induced stalemate. S Badrinath moved on to an unbeaten 37 and K Vasudevadas ensured he survived the brief action before the heavens opened once again. It was Bengal's fifth draw in five matches, keeping themat No. 5 in Group A, while Tamil Nadu slipped to third, below Delhi who won against Assam. Meanwhile, the Cricket Association of Bengal announced that Ganguly will not play their next match, against Saurashtra.