Tamil Nadu, Mumbai struggle on opening day
Haryana continued their dream season after being promoted from the Plate League this year, surging to 293 for 2 on the opening day of their quarterfinal clash against Tamil Nadu at the Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium in Rohtak. On a track that was expected to aid seamers through the season, Tamil Nadu chose to field, but were left to rue their decision by stumps.
Things began brightly for the visitors, with first-change seamer Sunil Sam removing Rahul Dewan in the eighth over. Thereafter, it was a long day of toil for Tamil Nadu as Nitin Saini and Sunny Singh ground their attack with centuries. Tamil Nadu did not make matters easy for their bowlers; two of their most senior players - Dinesh Karthik and S Badrinath - dropped Saini on 11 and 28 respectively. The second-wicket pair raised 241 before R Ashwin got rid of Sunny for 102, his tenth first-class ton. Ankit Rawat saw away the last nine overs of play with Saini, who marched on to 137 off 283 balls. With a batsman of Hemang Badani's pedigree to follow, Haryana have the opportunity to raise a really big score and put the more-fancied Tamil Nadu under pressure over the course of the match.
Pankaj Singh was not overawed by defending champions Mumbai, taking six wickets as Rajasthan dismissed the visitors for 252 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Pankaj struck almost immediately after Mumbai chose to bat, trapping Onkar Gurav lbw for no score. He followed that up by bowling Sahil Kukreja for 10 and three overs later, when Sumit Mathur bowled former India opener Wasim Jaffer, also for a duck, Mumbai were in some trouble at 53 for 3. Rohit Sharma could only make 21 before becoming Pankaj's third wicket, and Ajinkya Rahane, who had batted for two and half hours, then fell to Deepak Chahar for 60, leaving Mumbai gasping at 116 for 5.
Former India allrounder Ajit Agarkar and Abhishek Nayar attempted to rescue their side, adding 61 for the sixth wicket, but Pankaj struck again to remove Agarkar for 36 and Iqbal Abdulla for 5, to earn his fourth five-wicket haul of the tournament. Chahar chipped in again with the wicket of Nayar, who also 60. Ramesh Power hung around to make 25 before becoming Pankaj's final wicket, giving the seamer figures of 6 for 64. Aakash Chopra, fresh off a triple-hundred, and Vineet Saxena then took Rajasthan to 17 for no loss.
Munaf Patel helped give Baroda the upper hand against Railways at the Moti Bagh Stadium in Vadodara, taking four wickets as the visitors slumped to 181 for 8, before Yere Goud and Nileshkumar Chauhan staged a mini-recovery to carry their side to 241 at the close of play. Railways surprisingly opted to open with left-arm spinner, Murali Kartik, but the move paid off as he went on to make a fluent 57, striking nine fours and two sixes.
His dismissal to Yusuf Pathan, who has had a great season with the ball, however, triggered a collapse, with 109 for 2 quickly becoming 125 for 7. Munaf picked up three of the wickets to fall, having Prashant Awasthi caught for 34 before bowling Mahesh Rawat for 5 and Dhiran Salvi for a duck. Jai Prakash Yadav then joined hands with Goud to add 56. Left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt snapped up Yadav for 42, but Chauhan resisted stoutly for 87 minutes and remained unbeaten on 31, while Goud's three-and-a-half-hours vigil yielded 44.
Karnataka's bowlers proudced an all-round display to knock over Madhya Pradesh for 200, with only opener Jalaj Saxena's half-century proving to be any resistance at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore. Saxena and Naman Ohja put on 42 for the first wicket, and appeared to have things under control, but Vinay Kumar got Ohja to edge one behind. Mohnish Mishra was then caught and bowled by Sunil Joshi for 14, before Devendra Bundela (7) and Abbas Ali (0) fell in quick succession.
Saxena then became one of Sreenath Aravind's three victims, having made 73, to leave MP stuttering at 118 for 5. Ankit Sharma provided some lower-order impetus, making an unbeaten 41, but got little support from the rest of the batsmen. Aravind ended with 3 for 35, while Joshi and Vinay picked up two wickets apiece. Robin Uthappa and KB Pawan then guided the visitors to 35 for 0.