On the third day of the sixth round, Saurashtra closed in on a semi-final spot by beating Maharashtra outright. Saurashtra now have 20 points, three more than Delhi and five more than Mumbai, whose matches are yet to be completed.
In Group B, Uttar Pradesh made a late charge towards the semi-finals as they beat Bengal by an innings and 152 runs and moved to 14 points with one match to play. Punjab turned the game against Orissa on its head after bowling them out for 76 in the second innings. They look good to chase the 175 runs easily on the fourth day, a result which will give them an excellent chance to avoid relegation. They don't play a match in the last round, having already completed their fixtures, and will have to await other results.
Saurashtra 253 and 68 for 2 (Vaghela 29*, Bahutule 2-35) beat Maharashtra 136 and 182 (Kanitkar 62, Dhurv 5-37, Jadeja 3-45) by 8 wickets
Saurashtra sailed to the top of Group A after completing an eight-wicket win over Maharashtra in Nagothane. The hosts, trailing by 117 on the first innings, resumed at 34 for 1, and were bundled out for 182, with left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhurv picking up career-best figures of 5 for 37 in 13.4 overs. Allrounder Ravindra Jadeja chipped in with three wickets, as Maharashtra once again failed to go beyond 200. Hrishikesh Kanitkar top-scored with 62, with only three other batsmen going past single figures.
Needing 66 for the win, Saurashtra lost two wickets to Sairaj Bahutule before sealing the win and gaining five crucial points in the process.
Uttar Pradesh 494 (Praveen Kumar 67, Paul 7-113) beat Bengal 149 and 193 (Gupta 5-11, Tyagi 4-38) by an innings and 152 runs
Uttar Pradesh stretched their overnight score of 437 for 7 to 494 before bowling out Bengal for 193 to win by an innings and 152 runs at Eden Gardens. UP gained the bonus point and are now placed second behind Baroda in Group B.
For Bengal, SS Paul bagged 7 for 113. Bengal's openers put up a spirited reply in their second innings, putting up a 100-run partnership, but Praveen Gupta and Sudeep Tyagi then ran through their batting line-up as the rest folded meekly. Anustup Majumdar top-scored with 60. While it was Tyagi who broke the resistance with the first four wickets, Gupta ended with exceptional figures of 9.3-6-11-5.
Himachal Pradesh 214 (Hussain 6-58) and 236 for 5 (Gupta 53, Paras Dogra 50*, Mannu 42*) lead Mumbai 370 by 80 runs
Mumbai managed to take a healthy first-innings lead in Dharamsala and enforced a follow-on, but an 81-run sixth-wicket partnership between Paras Dogra (50*) and Ajay Mannu (42*) kept the game alive for Himachal Pradesh.
Himachal, resuming on 180 for 7 in the first innings, were bowled out for 214. Murtaza Hussain, playing his third first-class game, finished with 6 for 57, his maiden five-wicket haul. In the second innings, Himachal's openers Manish Gupta and Hemant Dogra led a dogged reply with an opening stand of 76.
The spinners - Ramesh Powar and Iqbal Abdullah - then struck for Mumbai, as Himachal slumped to 155 for 5 before Paras and Mannu propped them to 236 at stumps.
Punjab 225 (Basanth Mohanty 5-48) and 117 for 2 (Inder 47*) need another 58 runs to beat Orissa 323 and 76 (VRV Singh 5-25, Gangadeep Singh 3-25)
VRV Singh's hat-trick rattled Orissa in the second innings to put Punjab on the threshold of a stunning win after they had conceded a 98-run first-innings lead. Orissa were bowled out for 76, while Punjab had scored 117 of the 175 runs required for the loss of two wickets by stumps. VRV took 5 for 25 to trigger a collapse after a solid start, while Gagandeep Singh took 3 for 25. The last nine entries on the Orissa scorecard read: 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 4, 6, 0, 0*. VRV Singh became the third bowled to take a hat-trick in two rounds of the Ranji Trophy, after Kerala's Sony Cheruvethur and Delhi's Parvinder Awana.
Earlier Punjab, resuming at 207 for 8, managed only 225, with Basanth Mohanty taking his second five-for in as many matches at the first-class level.
Ravi Inder, with an unbeaten 47, had taken Punjab close to what will be their first win this season. More importantly, it will take them off the bottom of the table.
Baroda 136 for 2 (Williams 75*, Solanki 51*) trail Andhra 469 for 9 dec (Prasad 121*) by 333 runs
After two days of grinding out the opposition, Andhra declared their first innings at 469 for 9, with former India wicketkeeper MSK Prasad remaining unbeaten on 121, but met an even more dour reply from Baroda who recovered well from two early blows.
If Andhra's run-rate of 2.53 during their innings was slow, Baroda outdid them, scoring 136 for 2 in 77 overs. Connor Williams was resolute during his 256-ball 75, and put on 133 runs for the unbroken third-wicket partnership with Rakesh Solanki, after D Kalyankrishna had struck twice to leave Baroda reeling at 3 for 2.
Karnataka 0 for 0 trail Delhi 538 by 538 runs
Continual rain dampened Delhi's hopes of a semi-final spot as play was washed out on the third day in Bangalore. This means that Delhi have one day left to dismiss Karnataka to gain the points for a first-innings lead. They currently have 17 points, three less than Saurashtra's 20, while Mumbai, too, have high chances of reaching 20 points at least by the end of the round.
Tamil Nadu 324 for 4 v Rajasthan
Rain continued to play spoilsport in Chennai, as only 8.2 overs were possible on day three after day two was washed out. Rajasthan struck once in that period, with Gajendra Singh removing overnight centurion M Vijay for 123.