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Barot hits ton for Saurashtra; Gujarat keep pace for qualification

Samit Gohel pulls the ball PTI

Unbeaten half-centuries from Manprit Juneja and Rujul Bhatt steered defending champions and table-toppers Gujarat to 262 for 4 in a game they would like to win considering how tight things are in Group B. There is the possibility of a two-way tie, even a three-way tie. So to stay safe in such circumstances six points - or seven if they could manage it - could be vital.

Jharkhand chose to bowl on home turf but ran into a very stubborn opening batsman in Samit Gohel, who faced 179 deliveries for his 64. Nevertheless, he struck eight fours and a six. His partner Priyank Panchal, who came into the game with back-to-back hundreds, fell for 33. Bhargav Merai (23) and Parthiv Patel (33) didn't trouble the scorers too much either and when Gohel fell in the 61st over, Gujarat were 179 for 4. That's when Juneja and Bhatt (who made 40 of his 51 runs in boundaries) came together to string a stand worth 83 runs in 22 overs.

Their regular No. 3 was busy scoring a hundred for India so Avi Barot was left to play the innings Cheteshwar Pujara might have, batting almost the entire day to remain unbeaten on 128 as Saurashtra battled for qualification into the Ranji Trophy knockouts. He came to the crease in the 10th over and, with Robin Uthappa (59) and Sheldon Jackson (54*) for support, took the score to 286 for 3 against Rajasthan in Jaipur.

With Saurashtra needing nothing short of a win - and even then they could find themselves out of the title - they could not afford a bad start. But the openers couldn't get past 20 and it was down to the middle order to regain the upper hand. Uthappa struck 11 fours to bring up his third half-century in as many matches and when he fell, Jackson took over striking seven fours in a 93-ball innings. Left-arm seamer Tanvir-ul-Haq was Rajasthan's most successful bowler, picking up 2 for 48 in 21 overs.

Kerala's Sandeep Warrier and Vinod Kumar took six wickets between them to reduce Haryana to 207 for 9 in Lahli. The two medium-pacers have kept their team alive in the race towards the quarter-finals, bowling 37 overs between them for only 90 runs.

But they had to wrench the upper hand back from Haryana, who at one point were 94 for 1. Then they became 158 for 6 and finally ended the day clinging on to their last wicket. None of the hosts' batsmen could make a score higher than Rajat Paliwal's 45. He was dismissed in the penultimate over before stumps, and Kerala received a bigger boost when Warrier picked up a wicket with what became the last ball of the day to push his tally to 4 for 50.