<
>

TN eye quarter-final berth after Gandhi ton

Kaushik Gandhi raises his bat after reaching his 150 PTI

Tamil Nadu took the first-innings lead against Gujarat in Belagavi to almost seal the qualifying scenarios from the group. Going into the final day, it was all but certain that these two sides - barring a Gujarat collapse, however unlikely - will join Mumbai as the three qualifiers from Group A. This became a real possibility late in the day when it emerged that Madhya Pradesh were unlikely to force a bonus-point win over Bengal in Delhi.

Tamil Nadu had Kaushik Gandhi to thank for being in this position. The top-order batsman, who has come into his own this season after being in and out of the side in the past, struck his third century of the season. He was unbeaten on 150 as Tamil Nadu ended the day 90 ahead, on 397 for 4. His 116-run stand with B Indrajith, who made 66, helped the side recover from the late dismissal of Abhinav Mukund (99) on the second day. Gandhi and Vijay Shankar (35 not out) had added 97 when play ended.

Manpreet Gony's four-wicket haul kept Punjab in line for an outright win as they they enforced the follow-on against Mumbai in Rajkot. It may yet not be enough, unless of course Tamil Nadu, having taken a lead, lose outright to Gujarat.

Having already taken a wicket overnight, Gony took two early wickets on the day as Mumbai slipped to 19 for 4 within the opening five overs. It took a 101-run sixth-wicket stand to rescue Mumbai from 37 for 5. This partnership was between Sufiyan Shaikh (67) and medium-pacer Shardul Thakur (70), who had been released by the Indian Test team after he didn't make the XI in the ongoing Test. Mumbai's resistance didn't last too long after this partnership, and they folded for 185.

In the second innings, they reached 94 for 2 stumps, on the back of a 72-run stand between Shreyas Iyer and Armaan Jaffer for the second wicket. At stumps, Shreyas was unbeaten on 59, alongside nightwatchman Vishal Dabholkar (2*).

Ankit Sharma and Ishwar Pandey struck their highest first-class scores and put on 121 for the eighth wicket to keep Madhya Pradesh in the game against Bengal in Delhi.

MP's overnight pair extended their partnership to 84, having come together after Dinda had struck on the first ball of their response to Bengal's 475. However, they lost six wickets for 82 runs from that point, and were reduced to 166 for 7, thanks largely to medium-pacer Sayan Ghosh, who took four of those wickets. Ankit then scored an unbeaten 90 as he put on 121 with Ishwar (63) and an unbroken 76 with Naman Ojha (40*) - who came in at No. 10 - to take MP to 363 for 8 at stumps.

Baroda's last five wickets added 307 runs, but couldn't succeed in getting them the first-innings lead against Uttar Pradesh in Nasik. Baroda had been steadied by a 91-run stand between Kedar Devdhar and Irfan Pathan overnight, after having fallen to 151 for 5 in response to UP's 481. The pair added a further 53 in the morning before Pathan was dismissed for a 98-ball 81.

Devdhar eventually fell for 157, after adding 53 with left-arm spinner Swapnil Singh, who went on to make a career-best 95 as he added 97 with Sagar Mangalorkar(34) for the eighth wicket. However, Kuldeep Yadav dismissed both of them in a space of four overs before a run-out ended Baroda's innings on 458. UP's openers, Shivam Chaudhary (55*) and Almas Shaukat (61*), put on an unbroken 117 to take them to stumps with a 140-run lead.