Mumbai's title defence in trouble
Rajasthan 236 for 1 (Saxena 117*, Kanitkar 96*) trail Mumbai 252 (Pankaj 6-64) by 16 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Mumbai's defence of the Ranji Trophy ran into trouble with Rajasthan on the verge of gaining a first-innings lead and converting it into a substantial one with nine wickets still in hand. Vineet Saxena notched up his eighth first-class century, striking 14 fours and a six, while the experienced Hrishikesh Kanitkar, playing his 122nd first-class game, finished the day on 95.
Rajasthan had gained the advantage at the end of the first day at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, and were in a dominant position at the end of the second. Rajasthan's battles were not only with the bowlers but with their own past and with Mumbai's reputation of scripting great jailbreaks. They had twice come close to beating Mumbai in 2003 and in 2007, but had choked. Saxena had hit a hundred in the second encounter but had thrown his wicket away and was watched ruefully as his team lost by two runs. He was doubly determined to not let it happen again.
It's a tribute to Rajasthan's focus today that the only wicket they lost today came due to an umpiring error. Aakash Chopra was adjudged lbw, when the ball appeared to have struck him high, in the fifth over of the day but that was to be the solitary moment of joy for Mumbai. Only 60 runs came in the first session but Saxena-Kanitkar combo had weathered the storm. Agarkar and Avishkar Salvi were the pick of the bowlers but even they couldn't create any chances as Saxena and Kanitkar grinded out Mumbai with their patience. Saxena hung around for 53 minutes and faced 33 deliveries in his 90's while Kanitkar had just 48 scoring shots from 255 balls. It was that kind of a day. As you would expect, Mumbai tried sledging Saxena into making indiscretions but in vain.
A team that climbed up from the Plate league was doggedly determined to knock out the 39-time champions. Mumbai used as many as seven bowlers, who didn't measure up to Rajasthan's determined response. The slow pitch nullifed Ramesh Powar and Iqbal Abdulla and the debutant seamer Aaquib Sheikh proved ineffective Mumbai's captain Wasim Jaffer was left hoping for a minor miracle : "The bowlers tried their best, but the wicket has flattened considerably. It's difficult for bowlers but we still need a Rajasthan collapse. Otherwise, it looks very difficult for us at the moment."
Baroda 303 for 4 (Devdhar 122*, Yusuf 68) lead Railways 248 (Murali Kartik 57, Munaf 4-88) by 55 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Baroda's batsmen gave their team a significant advantage over Railways at the Moti Bagh Stadium in Vadodara. A maiden first-class century from Kedar Devdhar and a typically aggressive 68 from Yusuf Pathan put Baroda on course for a first-innings lead, and Ambati Rayudu took them past the mark with an attacking knock. Railways were 241 for 8 overnight with two set batsmen - Yere Goud and Nileshkumar Chauhan - at the crease. But Goud's early dismissal in the day, trapped in front by Murtuja Vahora, meant only seven runs were added to the overnight score with Chauhan left unbeaten on 35.
The Baroda reply began at a slow pace, with openers Conor Williams and Jaykishan Kolsawala biding their time. However, they failed to capitalise on their starts and Railways appeared to have pulled things back at 70 for 2. But Devdhar and Yusuf, their approaches contrasting but hugely effective, accumulated 115 runs for the third wicket to lay the stage for a lead. Devdhar played several delightful back-foot punches, pulls and drives to up the ante while Yusuf hit a breezy half-century with four sixes and six fours.
Railways might have sensed an opportunity when Yusuf fell, to a good catch by Anureet Singh at cover, but Devdhar and Rayudu counterattacked in style. The pair raised 79 runs in just 42 minutes to propel Baroda towards the lead but Rayudu fell, attempting a sweep shot. Devdhar brought up his hundred by sweeping the legspinner Karan Sharma over square-leg boundary and stated his intent by on driving the last ball of the day to the boundary. Due to their collective effort, Baroda found themselves 55 ahead at stumps with six wickets in hand.
Karnataka remained in control in their encounter against Madhya Pradesh at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore. They gained a first-innings lead and stretched it to 106 by stumps with two wickets in hand. Following a solid start from the openers Robin Uthappa and KB Pawan, the middle order stepped up with Manish Pandey chipping in with 49, Amit Verma top-scoring with 85, Stuart Binny stroking a fluent 39 and wicketkeeper CM Gautam remaining unbeaten on 29. It could have proved much worse for Madhya Pradesh when Karnataka were 294 for 5 with Verma and Gautam going strong. But a three-wicket burst from Jalaj Saxena's offspinners, for just as many runs, including the dismissal of Verma, gave Madhya Pradesh hope of fighting back and limiting the lead to an extent where a win still remained within reach.
Tamil Nadu fought back on the second day against Haryana in Rohtak, but only after a majority of the day was lost to fog. Play began as late as 3pm but within the couple of hours of play that were possible, Tamil Nadu managed to pick up four wickets but Haryana were still in a strong position at 379 for 6. Seamer L Balaji picked up two wickets, including the centurion opener Nitin Saini who was finally dismissed for 150. Hemang Badani was trapped in front by former team-mate R Ashwin for 31, overnight batsman Ankit Rawat fell for 20 and Haryana were able to add 86 to their first-day score. Tamil Nadu didn't help themselves by conceding 41 extras, and need to battle the weather and the tail to bowl the opposition out.