Bangar bangs his drum with 116

Andhra 262 (MSK Prasad 61) and 72 for 1 trail Railways 441 for 8 dec (Bangar 116, S Rao 4-96) by 107 runs
Sanjay Bangar completed a well-deserved century to stake a strong claim for a return to the Indian side for the Australian tour. The other highlight of the day was a quickfire blitz from lower-order batsman Siddharth Verma, who smacked 79 off only 83 balls and enabled an early declaration. Shankara Rao was the pick of the bowlers with 4 for 96. The Andhra openers applied themselves much better in the second innings, putting on 72 for the first wicket. Tomorrow the rest of the batsmen must show similar application if Railways are to be denied an outright win.

Baroda 213 (Mongia 74, Salvi 5-42) and 219 for 4 (Parab 121) lead Mumbai 324 (Kambli 114) by 108 runs
Satyajit Parab hit a fluent hundred and, along with Connor Williams (50), laid the foundation for an effective Baroda reply at the end of the third day against Mumbai. Vinod Kambli, 108 overnight, fell early in the day after adding only six runs to his overnight score, then the Mumbai innings folded up for 324. Shekar Joshi, who took four wickets, was the most successful bowler. Parab stroked 17 fours, and Baroda's fightback set up a fascinating final day at the Wankhede Stadium.

Delhi 478 (Gambhir 147, Oberoi 80, Gupta 5-143) lead Uttar Pradesh 206 for 7 (Pandey 60*) by 272 runs
After putting up a solid batting performance on the first day, Delhi picked up six wickets and restricted UP to 206 on the third day at Kanpur. Most of the UP batsmen gave it away after getting starts, and only Gyanandra Pandey's dour 60 stood out for mention. All the Delhi bowlers shared the spoils, with Sarandeep Singh picking up two wickets in a marathon spell where he gave nothing away. The rain on the second day denied Delhi valuable time, and if Pandey can continue his rearguard, Delhi may not be able to force the issue and grab an outright win.

Hyderabad 245 (Lalit Patel 5-58) and 185 (Trivedi 4-45) lead Gujarat 129 (NP Singh 6-33) and 75 for 3 by 226 runs
Wickets continued to tumble at Ahmedabad, and Gujarat need 226 runs more to beat Hyderabad on the final day tomorrow. The Hyderabad batsmen struggled to 185, with only Daniel Manohar (45) and Arjun Yadav (44) offering much resistance. Siddharth Trivedi capitalised on the helpful track, and snapped up four wickets, while Timil Patel supported him with 3 for 29. The Gujarat batsmen need to show much more steel on the final day - but 226 runs may be too much taking into account the bowling and the pitch.

Punjab 541 for 7 dec (Mongia 151, Ricky 125) lead Kerala 213 for 4 (Hemanth Kumar 61) by 328 runs
Kerala put up a brave fight at Palakkad, finishing the third day at a respectable 213 for 4 against Punjab. After chasing leather on the first two days, the batsmen did not succumb to the pressure and gave a good account of themselves. Hemanth Kumar top-scored with 61, and was given good support by his captain, Sunil Oasis, who made a half-century. The Punjab bowlers suffered on a belter of a wicket with the two Sharmas, Samrat and Rajesh, picking up two wickets apiece. Punjab may have to settle for first-innings points, unless Kerala collapse tomorrow.

Rajasthan 253 (Khoda 86, Paul 6-68) and 268 for 5 dec lead Bengal 118 (Sharma 6-18) and 9 for 1 by 394 runs
Rohit Jhalani, the wicketkeeper, hit a priceless 85 as Rajasthan stamped their authority on Bengal at the end of the third day at Jaipur. Anshu Jain (53*) also made a valuable contribution as Rajasthan declared at 268 for 5 to set Bengal a target of 403. Jhalani cracked 11 fours in his 149-ball stay, and will be looking for Sanjeev Sharma and co. to repeat their first-innings bowling heroics. For Bengal the most successful bowler was Saurasish Lahiri, who finished with 3 for 69, but Rajasthan are favourites to press for an outright win tomorrow.

Karnataka 208 (Balaji 4-51, Ramkumar 4-42) and 235 (Binny 54, Ramkumar 6-51) lead Tamil Nadu 184 (Prasad 6-51) and 81 for 2 by 178 runs
Tamil Nadu's left-arm spinner Ramkumar grabbed six wickets as Karnataka frittered away the advantage on the third day at Bangalore. L Balaji also impressed with three wickets before TN's openers put on 51 runs to begin the chase in right earnest. Stuart Binny, son of the former Indian allrounder Roger, played a lone hand for Karnataka with a hard-hitting 54, which included nine fours and a six. A few other batsmen got starts, but fell to Ramkumar's wiles. Tamil Nadu look all set to begin the seaon on a winning note, unless Venkatesh Prasad has another fine bowling performance up his sleeve.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is on the staff of Wisden Cricinfo.