Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Jharkhand 880 and 417 for 6 (Roy 153, Kushagra 89, Utkarsh 73, Jonathan 3-109) drew with Nagaland 289 (Bist 122*, Nadeem 3-70, Roy 2-37, Mishra 2-79) - Jharkhand qualify for quarter-finals on first-innings lead
Their first-innings lead - a mammoth 591-run lead at that - over Nagaland took Jharkhand into the quarter-final of this season's Ranji Trophy. Nagaland's struggle finally ended just after halfway on the fifth day, as the two teams shook hands at Kolkata's Eden Gardens, with Jharkhand having taken a lead of 1008, the highest in the history of first-class cricket, when they finished on 417 for 6 in their second innings.
When the final day's play started, Jharkhand were 132 for 2 in their second innings, already 723 ahead, and could have pushed for a win, as they might have when they bowled Nagaland out for 289 after putting up 880 in their first innings. But they chose to bat on, taking a result out of the contest. As a result, opener Utkarsh Singh and middle-order batters Anukul Roy and Kumar Kushagra, who had scored 266 in the first innings, added to their numbers.
Jharkhand added 285 runs in just over 53 overs of play on the day. Roy followed his first-innings 59 with an entertaining 159 off 164 balls, smashing 14 fours and seven sixes in his knock. He added 163 with Kushagra, who scored 89 in 104 balls. Utkarsh was the first wicket to fall on the day, caught off Shrikant Mundhe for 73 after resuming on 50.
Kushagra joined Roy at the start of the 51st over, and after the 58th, the two started to up the scoring rate. They took 41 off four overs as Roy edged closer to a century, and he got to the landmark, his second in first-class cricket, in the 66th over by hitting a six off left-arm spinner Imliwati Lemtur.
He continued to have fun against the spinners, taking four and six off consecutive balls from Rongsen Jonathan in the 77th over, before cracking two successive sixes off Lemtur in the next. Though Roy fell to Jonathan for a career-best 153, Kushagra continued to go big, launching Jonathan for two sixes before being dismissed off the third ball of the 91st over, which turned out to be the final delivery of the match.
The Ranji Trophy quarter-finals begin after the IPL concludes on May 29, the tournament having been split into two chunks this season. The fixtures for the knockouts have not been released yet.
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