ESPNcricinfo brings you all the major talking points from the first two days of the eighth round of the Ranji Trophy 2018-19
Saurabh Kumar spins UP to the top
After topping the Duleep Trophy bowling charts with 19 wickets in three matches, Uttar Pradesh left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar has extended his rich form to become the top wicket-taker among the Elite Group bowlers in Ranji Trophy 2017-18.
His 14 wickets against Haryana on a Lahli pitch, which is usually friendlier to the seamers, vaulted his tally to 46 in eight matches this season. Saurabh's match figures of 14 for 65 is the second best by a UP bowler; Ashish Zaidi had claimed 15 for 192 against Vidarbha in Kanpur in December 1999.
On a 20-wicket first day, UP had managed a slender 23-run lead after Saurabh skittled Haryana for 110 in 43 overs. Haryana were bowled out for 129 in even fewer overs (37.2) in their second dig, setting UP a target of 107. Opener Samarth Singh's unbeaten 53 off 64 balls then ensured his side completed the victory inside two days. UP's fifth win in eight games took them to the top of the Group C points table.
There's no stopping Wasim Jaffer
Featuring in his 145th Ranji match - the joint-most alongside former Madhya Pradesh player Devendra Bundela - Vidarbha professional Wasim Jaffer cracked his 56th first-class hundred, against his former team Mumbai. He had reached the landmark off 85 balls on the first day, peeling off his fastest first-class century against a side that had Jaffer's nephew Armaan in its ranks during the first half of the season. Anyone fancy stopping the Jaffer?
The 40-year-old moved to 178 off 196 balls before 22-year-old left-arm spinner Dhrumil Matkar had him caught behind. Matkar pressed on to collect his first five-wicket haul in first-class cricket, bowling Vidarbha out for 511 on the second day.
In response, Mumbai wobbled around the fifties from opener Jay Bista and Shubham Ranjane, closing the day at 169 for 6.
Pankaj keeps Puducherry in contention for knockouts
Pankaj Singh picked up four wickets in each innings and became the first ever seamer to take 400 or more wickets in the Ranji Trophy. His strikes bowled Puducherry to a bonus-point victory against Manipur, pushing their points tally to 32 in seven games. Uttarakhand currently lead the Plate Group with 37 points in seven matches. Bihar, who amassed 440 for 9 declared against Mizoram in Jorhat in this round, are also in the race, with 27 points from six completed games.
Plate Group professionals continue to thrive
Sikkim's Milind Kumar and Meghalaya's Puneet Bisht dominated a runathon in Bhubaneshwar. After Milind hit his fifth century of the season - his 117 contributing to more than 53% of Sikkim's 219 - Bisht rattled off 301 not out off 293 balls. He struck 48 fours and a six, propelling Meghalaya to 555 for 3 at stumps on the second day.
Bisht added 433 for the third wicket at 4.81 per over with opener Raj Biswa, who hit 175 off 321 balls. After doing all the work with the bat for Sikkim, Milind wheeled away for 35 overs with the ball and came away with 2 for 147.
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