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Race for quarter-finals hots up, Tripura make history

Shivam Dube hit five sixes in an over PTI

The sixth round of 2018-19 Ranji Trophy concluded with five more matches ending in outright results. Two of those results - involving Tripura and Services winning - were particularly noteworthy because both teams were considered traditionally 'weak', but won handsomely enough to get a bonus point each.

Of greater interest, though, was how the points table is beginning to stack up, with only three rounds remaining.

Tight race in groups A and B; leaders pull away in C, D

Five teams will qualify from groups A and B combined, and the jostling for positions in a particularly packed space is going to be fascinating. Saurashtra have pulled ahead of the pack to be on 25 points after their win against Maharashtra. Kerala are second with 20 points, courtesy their bonus-point win against Delhi. Below them, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha are all on 18 points. Himachal Pradesh have made a surprise surge and are on 16 points, and although Tamil Nadu are on the 12th place, they have 12 points - one win away from vaulting into the top three. That's how close the top group is. Expect equations and places to change further, as the other rounds progress. The identities of the teams near the bottom is also interesting: Mumbai are 13th, Delhi are 15th, and Karnataka are only marginally better, on the eighth spot.

Group C has Rajasthan as the runaway toppers with 34 points. Uttar Pradesh have 25 points, while Jharkhand have 24. Every team in Group C has three matches left, so in theory, lots of permutations are still possible. But these three have been a cut above the rest all through the season, and to remove them from their top perches - Services are fourth with 16 points - would require a fairly extraordinary upending of the form book.

In the Plate Group, Uttarakhand are sitting pretty on 36 points, a whole 12 points clear of Puducherry, who have played one game less. The next round will pit the two against each other, and if it has a result, it could well determine which team finishes on top. Bihar are the dark horse with 21 points.

Dube serves notice; Karnataka, Hyderabad do the opposite

Shivam Dube smashed five sixes in five balls to go from 45 to 75 in an over. It was an opportune time to do it, on the eve of the IPL auctions - not that Dube isn't already on the radar of teams.

On the other hand, there was some distinctly un-IPL like play, too. Karnataka had been set 173 to win in a session. They began cautiously, had a brief period where they seemed to challenge the target thanks to Mayank Agarwal's big-hitting, but then shut shop when Agarwal was out. They ended up on 107 for 4 in 27 overs, with the teams shaking hands early.

Elsewhere, Hyderabad were turgid in their approach and made Bengal's first-innings run-rate of 2.78 look like a Powerplay. Bengal's slowness was partly due to their innings being a one-man show, Abhimanyu Easwaran scoring more than half of their runs with 186. Hyderabad, on the other hand, seemed intent to play only for the first-innings lead. On the third day, they scored 184 runs in 77 overs with their top-order batting losing only three wickets. The last of those came in the penultimate over of the day. Eventually, they fell short of Bengal's 336, being bowled out for 312 despite their go-slow approach.

Tripura create history

In all their first-class history, Tripura had won only eight matches before this round. None of those wins were by 10 wickets or an innings - so Tripura had never won with a bonus point. That changed against Goa in this round. Pratyush Singh's 110 had taken them to 358. A collective bowling effort across two innings - Goa were made to follow on - resulted in a fourth-innings target of just eight runs. Tripura's openers took just five balls to get there, giving the team seven points and lifting them above Goa in Group C to be second-last.

Services, too, won with a bonus point, as Diwesh Pathania sent Assam to 256 all out. Services had a target of 72, but with Rajat Paliwal there, they achieved that comfortably. Paliwal had made 180 batting at No. 4 in the first innings. This time, he came out to open, a statement of intent perhaps and an attempt to get the bonus point. The move worked, with Paliwal unbeaten on 39 off 48 balls.

Left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate ran through Railways with 6 for 43 - taking career-best match figures of 9 for 109 - to give Vidarbha a 118-run win. Railways were bowled out in just 24.2 overs in the morning, having resumed at their overnight dig on 19 for 1.

In other results, Himachal Pradesh notched up a significant win, beating Andhra by an innings and three runs to pocket a bonus point. Andhra had resumed on 175 for 1, but losing centurion CR Gnaneshwar precipitated a collapse from 194 for 1 to 284 all out. Meanwhile, Saurashtra were made to work towards a target of 117, but got there with five wickets in the bag. Maharashtra were 157 for 3 overnight, but couldn't carry on, with Dharmendrasinh Jadeja taking career-best figures of 7 for 55. It included Kedar Jadhav stumped for a first-ball duck.

Brief scores

Groups A and B:

Mumbai 465 (Iyer 178, Lad 130, Hardik Pandya 5-81, Bhatt 4-76) & 307/7 (Ranjane 64, Kerkar 56, Dube 76, Hardik Pandya 2-21) drew with Baroda 436 (Waghmode 114, Solanki 133, Hardik Pandya 73, Dias 4-99 in Mumbai
Mumbai 3 points, Baroda 1 point

Saurashtra 398 (Vishvaraj Jadeja 97, Snell Patel 84, Vasavada 62, Sanklecha 6-103) & 120/5 (Desai 44) beat Maharashtra 247 (Jadhav 99, Sakariya 6-63) & 267 (Motwani 120*, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 7-55) by 5 wickets in Nasik
Saurashtra 6 points, Maharashtra 0 points

Gujarat 216 (Panchal 74, Shreyas 2-21, Vinay 2-33) & 345 (Merai 74, Bhatt 91, Juneja 98, More 4-61, Gowtham 4-80) drew with Karnataka 389 (Padikkal 74, Shreyas 93, Vinay 51, Chawla 4-99, Nagwaswalla 3-48) & 107/4 (Agarwal 53, Axar Patel 3-45) in Surat
Karnataka 3 points, Gujarat 1 point

Vidarbha 331 (Fazal 53, Karnewar 94, Avinash Yadav 5-78) & 147 (Sarwate 39, Harsh Tyagi 7-41) beat Railways 236 (Pratham 95, Sarwate 3-66, Wakhare 5-71) & 124 (Sarwate 6-43) by 118 runs in New Delhi
Vidarbha 6 points, Railways 0 points

Kerala 320 (Rahul 77, Manoharan 77, Saxena 68, Shivam 6-98) beat Delhi 139 (Saxena 6-39) & 154 (Warrier 3-39, Saxena 3-49) by an innings and 27 runs in Thumba
Kerala 7 points, Delhi 0 points

Tamil Nadu 215 (Vijay Shankar 71, Gony 5-55) & 383/6 (Abhinav 74, Indrajith 93, Karthik 74) drew with Punjab 479 (Gill 268, Mandeep 50, Sai Kishore 6-107) in Mohali
Punjab 3 points, Tamil Nadu 1 point

Bengal 336 (Easwaran 186, Ravi Kiran 4-46) & 49/1 (Chatterjee 30*) drew with Hyderabad 312 (Rohit Rayudu 93, Himalay 65, Dinda 4-88, Mukesh 4-54) in Hyderabad
Bengal 3 points, Hyderabad 1 point

Himachal 460 (Chopra 65, Kalsi 120, Rishi Dhawan 76, Amit Kumar 65, Golamaru 3-102) beat Andhra 173 (Sai Krishna 74, Jaiswal 5-50) & 284 (Gnaneshwar 103, Sai Krishna 82*) by an innings and 3 runs in Amtar
Himachal Pradesh 7 points, Andhra 0 points

Group C

Jharkhand 354 (Jaggi 95, Kishan 54, Nadeem 109, Dhruv 6-105) & 213/5 (Deobrat 78, Kishan 53, Yash Dayal 3-49) drew with Uttar Pradesh 243 (Garg 54, Raina 75, Rinku 53, Rahul Shukla 5-65, Varun Aaron 4-59) & 174/1 (Saif 64*, Garg 80*) in Lucknow
Jharkhand 3 points, Uttar Pradesh 1 point

Services 396 (Navneet 79, Paliwal 180, Kalita 3-99) & 75/0 (Paliwal 39*) beat Assam 211 (Sinha 56, Pandey 5-74) & 256 (Gokul 56, Purkayastha 74, Pathania 5-56) by 10 wickets in New Delhi
Services 7 points, Assam 0 points

Jammu & Kashmir 161 (Ajit Chahal 3-31, Yuzvendra Chahal 3-50) & 205 (Owais 71, Ajit Chahal 3-55, Yuzvendra Chahal 4-37) beat Haryana 145 (Rohit 41, Mudhasir 4-50, Umar Nazir 5-55) & 91 (Irfan Pathan 5-18, Umar Nazir 3-29) by 130 runs in Lahli
Jammu & Kashmir 6 points, Haryana 0 points

Rajasthan 135 (Lomror 85, Basant Mohanty 6-20) & 148 (Gautam 51, Basant Mohanty 5-29) beat Odisha 111 (Choudhary 5-49, Tanvir 5-14) & 137 (Suryakant Pradhan 56, Choudhary 5-35, Tanvir 3-39) by 35 runs in Bhubaneswar
Rajasthan 6 points, Odisha 0 points

Tripura 358 (Pratyush 110, Rajib Saha 68*, Amit Verma 3-87) & 9/0 beat Goa 192 (Kauthankar 79, Abhijit Sarkar 4-29, Ajoy Sarkar 3-42) & 173 (Prabhudessai 65, Harmeet 3-46, Murasingh 3-55) by 10 wickets in Agartala
Tripura 7 points, Goa 0 points

Plate Group

Bihar 242 (Babul 43, Lakhan 3-30) beat Meghalaya 125 (Biswa 56, Aman 8-51) & 46 (Aman 6-17, Quadri 4-24) by an innings and 71 runs in Shillong
Bihar 7 points, Meghalaya 0 points

Mizoram 161 (Taruwar 74, Chaudhary 5-57) & 162/8 (Taruwar Kohli 105*, Chaudhary 4-74) trail Sikkim 332 (Milind 139, Sinan 3-74) & 170 (Thapa 44, Bipul 65, Taruwar Kohli 5-39) by 179 runs in Jorhat

Puducherry 136 (Fabid 41*, Deendyal 4-36, Neri 3-28) & 351 (Dogra 139, Fabid 88, Deendyal 4-63, Neri 3-76) beat Arunachal 82 (Fabid 6-29) & 71 (Pankaj 5-25, Rohit 4-7) by 334 runs in Goalpara
Puducherry 6 points, Arunachal Pradesh 0 points

Nagaland 207 (Jonathan 69, Dhapola 5-49) & 182/4 (Rupero 85) trail Uttarakhand 557 (Vineet 185, Panwar 101, Kazi 3-124) lead by 168 runs in Dehradun