Narwal's seven put Delhi on top
Two fast bowlers set up what could be a potentially exciting final day between Delhi and Railways at the Roshanara Club. The first two sessions on the third day belonged to Delhi right-arm seamer Sumit Narwal, who ran through the Railways batting line-up to pick up seven wickets, as Railways were dismissed for 166, leaving Delhi 136 runs to get for victory. New-ball bowler Anureet Singh stole the limelight in the final session as he picked up three crucial top-order wickets, to leave Delhi precariously placed on 48 for 4. With the match between Tamil Nadu and Mumbai heading for a draw, a win for Delhi will get them closer to Mumbai at the top of the table and also build a gap between them and Tamil Nadu, who are in third poistion.
Railways second innings began disastrously as Narwal struck to dismiss openers Faiz Fazal and first-innings centurion Shreyas Khanolkar for ducks. He then picked up the wickets of Rakesh Mishra and Harshad Rawle in an incisive seven-over spell as Railways looked in deep trouble at 34 for 4. But Sanjay Bangar and Mahesh Rawat stemmed the rot adding 90 runs for the fifth wicket. The partnership was looking threatening for Delhi, until Narwal had Rawat caught behind soon after he reached his half-century. He followed this up with the crucial wicket of Bangar - who was dropped thrice in the slips - to leave Rajasthan at 133 for 6 and Delhi back in control. Rajasthan lost their last four wickets for 33 runs, Narwal finishing with match figures of 9 for 101.
Delhi captain Shikhar Dhawan was the first to fall, for 14, after he miscued a pull shot off Anureet Singh. Aditya Jain was the next to go, trapped plumb in front by JP Yadav. Mayank Tehlan fished at an away-going delivery from Anureet to give Railways captain Murli Kartik a simple catch in the slips. Anureet struck again towards the end of the day's play to pick up the crucial wicket of Unmukt Chand, who had defied the Railways bowlers in the first innings with a century. With the ball doing a fair bit, the pressure will be on Delhi's middle and lower order on the final day.
Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary led from the front as he hit an unbeaten 116 to guide his team to 295 for 5 at the end of the third day's play against Saurashtra in Rajkot.
Resuming the day on 33 for 1, overnight batsman Shreevats Goswami and Dibyendu Chakravarty looked solid as they carried Bengal past 100. The partnership was finally broken when Shitanshu Kotak dismissed Goswami just one short of his half-century. That brought Tiwary to the crease and he and Chakravarty dashed any hope that Saurashtra might have had of picking up another quick wicket. The duo added 127 runs for the third wicket with both batsmen finding the boundary with ease.
Rajasthan had some relief when Chakravarty was out for 80, edging a delivery from Saurya Sanandiya to the wicketkeeper. Sanandiya then struck in his next over to removed Anustup Majumdar. But Tiwary held one end firm, as he and No. 6 Writam Porel put on 44 runs before Sanandiya picked up his third wicket of the day, getting Porel caught behind. Tiwary was joined by Laxmi Ratan Shukla and the duo held firm till stumps. Bengal still trail Saurashtra by 128 runs and will be looking towards Tiwary and Shukla to gain the crucial first-innings lead on the final day.
The game between Tamil Nadu and Mumbai in Chennai was interestingly poised as Tamil Nadu reached 149 for 4 at the end of the third day, still trailing Mumbai's first-innings total by 89 runs.
Tamil Nadu did well to restrict Mumbai to 238 all out, after the visitors ended the second day on 180 for 4. Lakshmipathy Balaji struck early to pick up the crucial wicket of Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer, who could only add one run to his overnight score of 66. None of the remaining Mumbai batsmen could get going as Balaji and offspinner Suresh Kumar ran through the lower-order to share four wickets apiece, as Mumbai lost their last five wickets for 56 runs.
Tamil Nadu started steadily before Iqbal Abdulla removed openers Srikkanth Anirudha and Abhinav Mukund. S Badrinath and Tamil Nadu captain Dinesh Karthik steadied the innings as they carried their team past 100, before Karthik was dismissed. Left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh then swung the momentum in Mumbai's favour, picking up the crucial wicket of the in-form Badrinath soon after the batsman reached a half-century. K Vasudevadas and R Sathish survived close to 10 overs, adding 32 runs and Tamil Nadu's hopes of picking up the first innings lead rests on this pair.
Gujarat ended the third day in control against Assam in Guwahati. The visitors posted a commanding first innings total of 387 all out, propelled by Sunny Patel's century. Patel made 108 as the Assam bowlers struggled to make inroads in the Gujarat batting line-up. Assam ended the day struggling on 108 for 3, and look in grave danger of conceding the first-innings lead and points to Gujarat.
Karnataka finished the third day in a commanding position against Baroda at the Gangothri Glades Cricket Ground in Mysore. The hosts are 390 runs ahead with six wickets in hand and have a chance to declare and push for a win on Saturday. A win would make their place in the semi-final almost certain, while a loss for Baroda will mean they will still be one point behind Uttar Pradesh, with both teams having played five games. Karnataka, though, didn't seem to be in a hurry to get some quick runs and put pressure on Baroda on Friday. They scored at 2.9 runs an over and finished the day at 302 for 4. Allrounder Stuart Binny, who scored a century in Karnataka's last match, scored 60, while Amit Verma and Ganesh Satish also got half-centuries.
Sachin Rana's century helped Haryana avoid the follow-on, but Punjab ended day three still in command in Rohtak. Haryana ended the second day more than 100 runs adrift of the follow-on target with just three wickets in hand but Rana defied the Punjab bowlers on the third day. He added a crucial 83 runs with Dhruv Singh, who made 30, before he was dismissed for 102. Dhruv and Sanjay Budhwar then helped Haryana sneak past the follow-on target before Haryana were dismissed for 270.
Punjab's second innings started badly when they lost Inder Singh and Karan Goel cheaply, but Mandeep Singh made 73 and Uday Kaul scored 31, and carried Punjab to 144 for 3 at stumps, with an overall lead of 289.
Rain continued to interrupt the match between Orissa and Himachal Pradesh at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, but the 27.4 overs that were played on the third day was enough for the hosts to bowl out Himachal for 163. Starting the day at 85 for 6, Himachal captain Paras Dogra and seamer Rishi Dhawan continued their overnight partnership and extended it to 72 runs. Dogra got his half-century, but Himachal lost their last four wickets for 13 runs as seamer Basanth Mohanty completed his four-wicket haul.