At the end of the second day of the fifth round of Ranji Trophy 2018-19, a debutant and two men playing their final matches were in sight of significant achievements, and all three got there. And in Dehradun, two men emulated VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid.
As many as seven matches finished on the third day.
Record-breaking debuts, and fairy-tale farewells
Madhya Pradesh's Ajay Rohera was one hit away from getting the highest score on debut in first-class cricket when play ended on Friday in Indore. He didn't get there in one hit, but he did break the record set byAmol Muzumdar. Muzumdar had made 260 against Haryana in Faridabad in February 1994. Rohera finished on 267 not out before Madhya Pradesh declared on a massive 562 for 4. They then shot Hyderabad out for 185 to win by an innings and 253 runs and pocket seven points. To make it sweeter, Rohera also earned praise from the man whose record he had broken.
Would like to congratulate the youngster on this achievement. What an Effort. Records r meant to be broken, n I'm glad that the record stays in the 'Country'. well done to Ajay. Enjoy the moment.! https://t.co/c1lqiqndDd— Amol Muzumdar (@amolmuzumdar11) December 8, 2018
Gautam Gambhir was on 92 overnight, and duly completed a 43rd first-class century, signing off in style in his final match. Gambhir's century, and Dhruv Shorey's 98, have ensured Delhi will take the first-innings lead against Andhra, though with only a day's play left and Delhi 409 for 7 in their first innings, an outright result doesn't appear likely.
Saurashtra's Jaydev Shah had missed out on a hundred in his last match, making 97 in the first innings. He made only 4 in his second innings - thus ensuring that he'll end up with a first-class average below 30 - but Saurashtra won the battle of spinners against Karnataka to send their captain into retirement with an 87-run win.
1000 miles away, Eden reprised
Dehradun is actually 1051 miles away from Kolkata, but the Uttarakhand pair of Vineet Saxena and Rajat Bhatia did a Laxman-Dravid, batting the entire day without being separated. The pair had come together just before the tea break on Friday. At stumps on Saturday, they both had double centuries and their partnership was worth 399 runs. Meghalaya might have fancied their chances of a first-innings lead after having Uttarakhand 92 for 4 in reply to their 311 - but they couldn't have predicted 90 overs of toil without a wicket.
Results already in
Rajasthan have been on a remarkable run in Group C, and already have four wins from five games. They beat Assam by an innings and 43 runs, thanks to Aniket Choudhary's match haul of ten wickets. Choudhary took 5 for 38 in the first innings and 5 for 40 in the second, as Assam could muster only 108 and 174 in their two digs. Rajasthan have now raced away to 28 points, and are on top of Group C.
Uttar Pradesh might have expected to find themselves on top of their group, and with 24 points in five games thanks to three wins, that would have been a reasonable expectation. Only Rajasthan's even more brilliant run has pushed them to second. But UP have been a force in Group C, and their latest win underlined that. Having conceded a 102-run first-innings lead to J&K, they struck back to first bowl the team out for just 111, and then ease to a victorious fourth-innings chase. Most pleasingly for them perhaps, Suresh Raina found some form after a long time, hitting 66 not out, while Rinku Singh added a quick 42* to his first-innings 66. The hero for UP though, was Saurabh Kumar, who took career-best match figures of 11 for 118.
Baroda missed out on a bonus-point win, losing one wicket while chasing down a target of 28 against Chhattisgarh. The visiting team had been bowled out for 129 in the first innings but put on a better show in the second with 283, but with Yusuf Pathan's century having taken Baroda to 385, Chhattisgarh had too much to catch up on and make a match of it.
Bihar shut out Arunachal Pradesh by an innings and 317 runs, with Ashutosh Aman running through the visitors. Aman took 7 for 14 for a match haul of 11 for 40 - both career-best figures - as Arunachal tumbled from an overnight 98 for 1 to 135 all out.
Manipur quelled Nagaland's challenge for a seven-wicket win. After a dismal 126 in the first innings, Nagaland's were driven by their professionals - KB Pawan (131) and Abrar Kazi (90) - to 334 in their second innings. Manipur didn't stutter on their way to the 125-run target though. Yashpal Singh, Manipur's professional, made an unbeaten 35 in the chase, having earlier taken 5 for 46.
Rohera's innings stole the show, but Avesh Khan had an equal hand in MP's victory, taking 7 for 24 and 5 for 30 to send Hyderabad crashing. It was the first time Avesh had taken ten wickets in a match, and his first-innings figures were also his best ever.
The man who made Jaydev's farewell a happy one was Dharmendrasinh Jadeja. He had already taken 7 for 103 in Karnataka's first innings, and he followed that with 4 for 44 in the second, including trapping R Samarth plumb in front off the first ball of Karnataka's chase.
Watch out for…
These final day matches could have a thrilling finish:
Maharashtra are leading against Mumbai by 191 runs with five wickets remaining. They had begun the match well, but collapsed from 310 for 4 to 352 all out. Mumbai couldn't capitalise, though with a familiar face to battle the crisis - Siddhesh Lad, captaining Mumbai for this game - they made 273. In the second innings though, Mumbai have strangulated Maharashtra, whose scoring rate has been 2.15.
Jharkhand let slip a good start, going from 57 for no loss to 172 all out. They fought back though, as Odisha were bowled out for 201 after being 7 for 3 at one stage. Saurabh Tiwary's unbeaten 132 then set Odisha 260 to win. They're 81 for 3 at stumps, and the match is fascinatingly poised.
When Tripura bowled out Haryana for just 119 in their second innings, they might have thought a rare win was near, with only 162 to chase. However, they find themselves 104 for 7, and even that is a recovery from 75 for 7. The good news for Tripura is that Pratyush Singh, who made 76 in their first innings, is at the crease on 23.
Groups A and B:
Gujarat 367 (Panchal 69, Chawla 130, Amit Mishra 4-93) & 4/0 trail Railways 547/9d (Bhille 116, A Ghosh 93, Mahesh Rawat 119*) by 176 runs in Valsad. Scorecard
Maharashtra 352 (Gugale 101, Khurana 71, Pande 74, Parkar 4-56) & 112/5 (Dube 2-7) lead Mumbai 273 (Tare 63, Lad 93, Ranjane 54*, Ashay Palkar 4-62) by 191 runs in Pune. Scorecard
Baroda 385 (Yusuf 129*, Bhatt 67, Arothe 63, Verma 4-184) & 31/1 (Devdhar 25*) beat Chhattisgarh 129 (Swapnil 5-23) & 283 (Dhaliwal 79, Manoj Singh 61) by nine wickets. Scorecard Baroda 6 points, Chhattisgarh 0 points
Saurashtra 316 (Jaydev 97, Suchith 6-111) & 79 (Deshpande 3-5, Shreyas 3-10, Suchith 3-29) beat Karnataka 217 (Nischal 58, Nair 63, D Jadeja 7-103) & 91 (Nair 30, D Jadeja 4-44, Makwana 5-28) by 87 runs in Rajkot. Scorecard Saurashtra 6 points, Karnataka 0 points
Delhi 409/7 (Gambhir 112, Shorey 98) lead Andhra 390 (Bhui 187, Bhati 5-48) by 19 runs in New Delhi. Scorecard
Punjab 84 (M Dagar 4-22) & 195/8 (Garg 48, Gurvinder 4-43) trail Himachal 390 (Kalsi 82, M Dagar 71) by 111 runs in Mohali. Scorecard
Kerala 152 (P Rahul 59, Rahil Shah 4-32, T Natarajan 3-43) & 27/1 trail Tamil Nadu 268 (Indrajith 87, Shahrukh 92*, Warrier 5-52, Thampi 4-62) & 252/7 (Kaushik 59, Indrajith 92, Sijomon 4-51) by 341 runs in Chennai. Scorecard
MP 562/4d (Rohera 267*, Yash Dubey 139*) beat Hyderabad 124 (Himalay 69*, Avesh 7-24) & 185 (Rohit Rayudu 72, Avesh 5-30) by an innings and 253 runs. Scorecard Madhya Pradesh 7 points, Hyderabad 0 points
Tripura 250 (Pratyush 76, MB Murasingh 44, Harshal Patel 4-49) & 104/7 (Pratyush 23*, Amit Rana 4-37, Tinu Kundu 3-19) v Haryana 292 (Bishnoi 82, Rahul Dagar 114, Ajoy Sarkar 5-57, MB Murasingh 4-74) & 119 (Himanshu Rana 64, Ajoy Sarkar 3-15) by 57 runs in Agartala. Scorecard
Services 184 (Ravi Chauhan 75, Prabhudessai 5-52) & 277/5 (Paliwal 91, G Rahul Singh 81*) lead Goa 259 (Darshan Misal 101, Pathania 5-74, Pandey 4-59) by 202 runs in Porvorim. Scorecard
Uttar Pradesh 188 (Rinku Singh 66, Rasool 4-47) & 218/4 (Raina 66*, Rinku Singh 42*) beat J&K 290 (Rasool 87, Irfan 91, Saurabh Kumar 6-90) & 111 (Saurabh Kumar 5-28, Yash Dayal 4-26) by six wickets in Jammu. Scorecard Uttar Pradesh 6 points, Jammu & Kashmir 0 points
Odisha 201 (Sarangi 58, Pradhan 54) & 81/3 (Sarangi 41) trail Jharkhand 172 (Basant Mohanty 5-44) & 288 (S Tiwary 132*, R Mohanty 4-87) by 178 runs in Ranchi. Scorecard
Rajasthan 325 (Lomror 133, Salman Khan 71, Mali 5-62) beat Assam 108 (Aniket Choudhary 5-38) & 174 (Gokul Sharma 77, Aniket Choudhary 5-40) by an innings and 43 runs in Jaipur. Scorecard Rajasthan 7 points, Assam 0 points
Sikkim 247 (Milind 96, Pankaj Singh 3-21, Rohit D 3-67) & 105/3 (Ashish Thapa 52) trail Puducherry 647/8 d (Dogra 253, Fabid 99) by 295 runs in Wayanad. Scorecard
Uttarakhand 491/4 (Saxena 202*, Bhatia 212*) lead Meghalaya 311 (Bisht 154, Nagar 91, Dhapola 6-52) by 180 runs in Dehradun. Scorecard
Manipur 336 (Raghav 228, Tahmeed 5-108) & 128/3 (Lakhan Rawat 55) beat Nagaland 126 (Priyojit 3-20) & 334 (KB Pawan 131, Abrar Kazi 90, Yashpal Singh 5-46) by seven wickets in Sovima. Scorecard Manipur 6 points, Nagaland 0 points
Bihar 536/5 (Indrajit 222, Babul 98) beat Arunachal Pradesh 84 (Ashutosh Aman 4-26) & 135 (Samarth 58, Ashutosh Aman 7-14) by an innings and 317 runs in Patna. Scorecard Bihar 7 points, Arunachal Pradesh 0 points
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo