Rest of India 236 for 6 (Vihari 81*, Jayant 62*, Gurbani 4-46) trail Vidarbha 800 for 7 dec (Jaffer 286, Wankhade 157*, Kaul 2-91) by 564 runs
After Vidarbha declared at 800 for 7 - the highest total in the Irani Cup - seamer Rajneesh Gurbani sliced through Rest of India's batting line-up to help his side take a step closer to another title. At stumps on the fourth day, RoI were 236 for 6 and 564 runs in arrears.
Apoorv Wankhade, unbeaten on 99 overnight, completed his second first-class hundred to swell Vidarbha's total. Mayank Agarwal had the other overnight batsman Aditya Sarwate stumped for 18 and Hanuma Vihari took a return catch to remove Akshay Wakhare for a duck, but Wankhade and Gurbani forged an unbroken 56-run partnership in seven overs to propel their team to 800.
There was not much respite for RoI even after the declaration. Gurbani, who had become only the second bowler to register a hat-trick in a Ranji Trophy final, continued his excellent form. He struck with his second ball to have R Samarth caught at midwicket for a duck and Umesh Yadav had the in-form Agarwal caught at first slip with an inviting outswinger for 11 in the seventh over. RoI recovered briefly with Prithvi Shaw's crisp back-foot strokes and a six over wide long-on in his 51 off 64 but Aditya Thakare, Shaw's Under-19 team-mate from the World Cup in New Zealand, had him caught at gully.
Once Gurbani returned, he induced an outside edge off Karun Nair's bat and struck the top of the off stump with a sharp inswinger when Srikar Bharat shouldered arms, for a two-ball duck. In Gurbani's next over, R Ashwin tentatively pushed at a delivery outside off and handed a catch to first slip for 8 and RoI were in tatters at 98 for 6 with a massive deficit of 702 runs.
But Vihari and Jayant put on an unbroken 138-run stand for the seventh wicket to give their team some breathing space. Vihari hit 10 fours in his unbeaten 81 while Jayant struck nine fours in his unbeaten 62.
Even if Vidarbha fail to bowl RoI out twice, they have a strong chance of securing the Irani Cup by virtue of a first-innings lead.