Delhi stay alive with resounding win

Delhi 384 (Dhawan 93, Kohli 69, Chopra 58, Nanda 47) and 132 for 0 (Dhawan 84*, Chopra 42*) beat Saurashtra 241 (Chauhan 61, Jadeja 56, Awana 5-60) and 274 (Jadeja 143, Awana 5-77) by ten wickets

Delhi have bounced back the way champions are expected to. A win was what last year's winners sorely needed to keep their title defence alive, and they battled hard to beat hosts Saurashtra at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground.

Saurashtra began the final day with two second-innings wickets down, trailing Delhi by 97 runs. They would have been confident of their chances, with Cheteshwar Pujara, who's scored heavily in Rajkot this season, and the experienced Shitanshu Kotak resuming the innings. However, Delhi found a hero in Parvinder Awana, who picked the right day to complete his maiden first-class ten-wicket match haul.

Awana, who took a maiden five-for in the first innings, gave his team the upper hand by dismissing Kotak and Pujara in successive overs. Left-arm seamer Pradeep Sangwan soon made it 86 for 5 when he snared Jaydev Shah, the Saurashtra captain; Delhi were still 57 runs in the lead. Allrounder Ravindra Jadeja had a double-century in an earlier game, and under pressure he came up with a brisk 166-ball 143. He took charge of the innings, adding vital partnerships with Sagar Jogiyani (26) and Rakesh Dhurv (17). At 212 for 6, a lead of 69 and 40-odd overs completed, Saurashtra weren't safe yet. Jadeja needed support at the other end, but Awana once again did his two-in-two trick: Dhurv and Kamlesh Makvana were removed in consecutive overs.

Running out of partners, Jadeja needed to score as many runs as possible. Saurashtra's final two pairs put on 56, with the two tailenders contributing only three. Jadeja was last man out, caught-and-bowled to Awana, setting Delhi 132 to win. With 27 overs to reach the target, it was Shikhar Dhawan, the top scorer in their first innings, who gave the Delhi innings the much-needed impetus. He smashed 84 off 68 balls, with eight fours and two sixes, and more importantly, stayed unbeaten. Aakash Chopra - who made 42 off 64 - stayed with Dhawan to help Delhi gain a vital bonus point by virtue of a ten-wicket win.

Delhi, now fourth in the standings, will play their final league game against Rajasthan, who have already been relegated to the Plate League, while Saurashtra, who have a one-point edge in third place, host Hyderabad. Second-placed Gujarat could be upstaged if results don't go in their favour, but they will start the final round as favourites to reach the quarter-finals.

Punjab 291 (Kaul 106, Goel 44, Sidhana 41) and 211 for 1 (Inder Singh 112*, Sohal 91) beat Hyderabad 335 (Suman 131, Quadri 80, Shine 57, Ladda 4-72) and 164 (Pai 50, Ladda 5-39) by nine wickets

If Delhi kept their hopes alive, so did Punjab. They will, however, need a lot of luck if they are to qualify in the top three from Group A. Punjab took Hyderabad's remaining eight second-innings wickets in 46.2 overs on the final day at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, and a unbroken 197-run second-wicket stand saw them reach their target in 36.2.

Hyderabad started the day leading by 112, and their overnight pair of Anoop Pai and Amol Shinde extended it to 155. Legspinner Sarabjit Ladda, though, triggered a collapse. Shinde was caught by Ravi Inder Singh for 43, and Abhinav Kumar was dismissed in the same manner nine runs later. Pai was bowled by Ladda on 50, and the wickets of Syed Quadri and Arjun Yadav saw the bowler complete his maiden five-for.

MP Arjun resisted with his 25, before left-arm spinner Varun Khanna closed the innings with two wickets in two balls. Chasing 209, Punjab lost opener Karan Goel early, but Inder Singh and Sohal's scores 112 and 91 were enough to seal the deal. Punjab now have 12 points from six games, and will need to win with a bonus point against Mumbai - already in the quarter-final - and pray that Saurashtra lose and Delhi are kept to one point in the final round of matches.

Railways 212 (Goud 75, Sanyal 70, Fallah 5-49) and 334 for 6 dec (Goud 89, Sanyal 82, Kartik 56) drew with Maharashtra 244 (Shrikhande 113, Sanyal 4-26) and 251 for 5 (Jadhav 114*, Bawne 52)

An unbeaten century from Kedar Jadhav ensured Maharashtra earned three vital points in their bid to avoid relegation to the Plate League. The draw now leaves Railways needing a win against Group B leaders Tamil Nadu to qualify for the quarter-finals. If Railways win by an innings or ten wickets, they will gain a bonus point and move ahead of Uttar Pradesh, who are currently in second place but have completed their league games. Just a win will leave them hoping that Maharashtra take the first-innings lead or score a victory over Karnataka in their last game.

Maharashtra, resuming the day on 34 for 0, needed 269 more on the final day to win. But they chose caution over glory, not risking the three points (for the first-innings lead) already in the bag: a loss would have seen them get none. Openers Harshad Khadiwale and Rohan Bhosale doubled the overnight score before Khadiwale was bowled by Anureet Singh. Ameya Shrikhande, whose first-innings ton had given his team the advantage, was quickly dismissed for 13, but Jadhav and Ankit Bawne frustrated Railways. The two put on 143, but more significantly their stand lasted 55.5 overs. Bawne was trapped leg-before by Sanjay Bangar, the Railways captain. Nikhil Paradkar then played out 25 deliveries for his 1, and Rohit Motwani 16 for his 1 not out as Jadhav remained steady at the other end.

Maharashtra scored 24 runs in 15 overs after Bawne fell. Jadhav finished on 114 off 252 balls, with 15 fours and a six.

Karnataka 511 (Akhil 135, Uthappa 65, Raghu 64, Chawla 3-141) drew with Uttar Pradesh 567 (Srivastava 159, Kaif 112, Chawla 96, Aiyappa 3-108)

While all about him were losing their heads, and their wickets, Piyush Chawla kept his, to score a crucial 96 and take Uttar Pradesh a step closer to the quarter-finals. Coming in just before lunch, with UP still 143 short of Karnataka's 511, he strung together a partnership with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, then saw two wickets fall to let Karnataka back in. UP were 55 behind when No. 10 Amir Khan came out but the two batted sensibly for the much-needed three points in this, their last league game. (Read the full report.)