Shubman Gill and Hardik Pandya had grabbed the spotlight on day two of the sixth round of Ranji Trophy 2018-19, and both continued to hold sway on the third day too. Kedar Jadhav, however, faced a double heartbreak, for both himself and his team. Three more matches were decided, with Kerala back to winning ways, getting a bonus point against Delhi. The two that had been fascinatingly poised on the second day ended in favour of Jammu & Kashmir and Rajasthan.
Contrasting stories for Rajasthan and J&K
Rajasthan have almost sealed one of the top-two spots in Group C with their fourth straight win, beating Odisha by 35 runs. Rajasthan now have 34 points in six games. The two sides below Rajasthan in the points table, Jharkhand (24 points) and Uttar Pradesh (21 points), are engaged in a match with each other. Each one has two games left after that, while Rajasthan have one. Rajasthan have been in terrific form however, and look set to march on. In this match, Odisha had a target of 173 but in match where the highest score till then was 148, that was a tough ask. Odisha still made a fist of it, but Aniket Choudhary continued his good form with another five-wicket haul to make it ten for the match, bowling them out for 137. It was the second successive narrow loss for Odisha, who had gone down by just two runs against Jharkhand in the previous round.
J&K on the other hand, put behind the disappointment of a season of narrow defeats to beat Haryana by 130 runs. On 49 for 4 overnight, Haryana were bowled out for 91. Irfan Pathan had taken all four wickets on the second day and added a fifth. It marked a much-needed turnaround by J&K. Earlier in the season, they had suffered heartbreaks. Bowled out for 95 against Services, they fought back with 261 in the second innings but didn't have enough in the tank to prevent a defeat. Then against Uttar Pradesh, they took a 102-run first-innings lead only to collapse in the second innings and lose.
Kerala meanwhile, returned to winning ways, shooting out Delhi for 154 to complete an innings win and get not only their first bonus point win of the season but also leave behind the defeats of the previous two rounds. Kerala had missed out on a bonus point in two previous wins, losing a wicket while chasing a target below 50. Kerala's upswing coincided with Jalaj Saxena turning in another good show after two quiet matches. He took nine wickets in the match, and hit a half-century.
Gill's monumental knock, Pandya's battle
Shubman Gill was on 199 overnight, and he looked good for a triple once he had gone past his double, until a nicely flighted ball by R Sai Kishore had him coming down the track to be stumped for 268. Gill did have the satisfaction of making the season's highest score, one run more than Ajay Rohera made during his record-breaking debut in the last round.
Hardik Pandya, meanwhile, added 73 but Baroda's first innings ended at 436, just short of Mumbai's 465. Baroda will have to be satisfied with just one point unless Hardik can engineer a victory on the final day. He's already taken two wickets while giving just four runs in six overs, with Mumbai ending the day on 20 for 2.
The Jadhav heartbreak
Overnight on 38, Kedar Jadhav was out for 99 against Saurashtra in his first Ranji match of the season, and to make matters worse, Maharashtra just failed to beat the follow-on mark, bowled out 151 runs behind. New Saurashtra captain Jaydev Unadkat - there's still a Jaydev leading the team - enforced the follow-on and Maharashtra were 157 for 3, though Jadhav hadn't come out to bat for a second time yet.
Blistering bowling, and the other Kohli
India Under-19 left-arm spinner Harsh Tyagi, who will turn 19 in a week, picked up a career-best 7 for 41 as Railways fought back against defending champions Vidarbha. Having conceded a first-innings lead of 95, Railways rode on Tyagi to bowl out Vidarbha for 147. Set 243 for victory, Railways were 19 for 1, and it's anybody's game on the final day.
Other bowlers who had a good day were Jharkhand's fast-bowling pair of Rahul Shukla and Varun Aaron. Shukla took 5 for 65 and Aaron had 4 for 59 as Uttar Pradesh were bowled out for 243, giving Jharkhand a 111-run first-innings lead. These two sides being second and third in Group C and the league phase entering the home stretch, the outcome of this match is vital for both.
In the Plate Group, Taruwar Kohli had a heroic day, but Mizoram are facing defeat against Sikkim regardless. Known as the "other Kohli" - he was part of the 2008 Under-19 World Cup team under Virat - Taruwar had moved to Mizoram this season as a professional. He has single-handedly kept Mizoram alive in this match, though they are struggling at 162 for 8, with Taruwar batting on 105 and the target of 341 far away. In Sikkim's second innings, Taruwar took career-best figures of 5 for 39, and one of his scalps was that of Milind Kumar, the 1000-run man, out for his first duck of the season. In addition, Taruwar had also made 74 out of Mizoram's 161 in the first innings.
Groups A and B:
Mumbai 465 (Iyer 178, Lad 130, Hardik Pandya 5-81, Bhatt 4-76) & 20/2 (Hardik Pandya 2-4) lead Baroda 436 (Waghmode 114, Solanki 133, Hardik Pandya 73, Dias 4-99) by 49 runs in Mumbai
Maharashtra 247 (Jadhav 99, Sakariya 6-63) & 157/3 (Motwani 65*) lead Saurashtra 398 (Vishvaraj Jadeja 97, Snell Patel 84, Vasavada 62, Sanklecha 6-103) by 6 runs in Nasik
Gujarat 216 (Panchal 74, Shreyas 2-21, Vinay 2-33) & 187/3 (Merai 74, Bhatt 82*) lead Karnataka 389 (Padikkal 74, Shreyas 93, Vinay 51, Chawla 4-99, Nagwaswalla 3-48) by 14 runs in Surat
Railways 236 (Pratham 95, Sarwate 3-66, Wakhare 5-71) & 19/1 trail Vidarbha 331 (Fazal 53, Karnewar 94, Avinash Yadav 5-78) & 147 (Sarwate 39, Harsh Tyagi 7-41) by 223 runs in New Delhi
Kerala 320 (Rahul 77, Manoharan 77, Saxena 68, Shivam 6-98) beat Delhi 139 (Saxena 6-39) & 154 (Warrier 3-39, Saxena 3-49) by an innings and 27 runs in Thumba
Kerala 7 points, Delhi 0 points
Tamil Nadu 215 (Vijay Shankar 71, Gony 5-55) & 166/3 (Abhinav 74, Jagadeesan 50, Yuvraj 2-12) trail Punjab 479 (Gill 268, Mandeep 50, Sai Kishore 6-107) by 98 runs in Mohali
Hyderabad 204/4 (Rohit Rayudu 92*, Himalay 65, Dinda 3-54) trail Bengal 336 (Easwaran 186, Ravi Kiran 4-46) by 132 runs in Hyderabad
Andhra 173 (Sai Krishna 74, Jaiswal 5-50) & 175/1 (Gnaneshwar 89*) trail Himachal 460 (Chopra 65, Kalsi 120, Rishi Dhawan 76, Amit Kumar 65, Golamaru 3-102) by 112 runs in Amtar
Jharkhand 354 (Jaggi 95, Kishan 54, Nadeem 109, Dhruv 6-105) & 143/2 (Deobrat 70*) lead Uttar Pradesh 243 (Garg 54, Raina 75, Rinku 53, Rahul Shukla 5-65, Varun Aaron 4-59) by 254 runs in Lucknow
Assam 211 (Sinha 56, Pandey 5-74) & 83/3 trail Services 396 (Navneet 79, Paliwal 180, Kalita 3-99) by 102 runs in New Delhi
Jammu & Kashmir 161 (Ajit Chahal 3-31, Yuzvendra Chahal 3-50) & 205 (Owais 71, Ajit Chahal 3-55, Yuzvendra Chahal 4-37) beat Haryana 145 (Rohit 41, Mudhasir 4-50, Umar Nazir 5-55) & 91 (Irfan Pathan 5-18, Umar Nazir 3-29) by 130 runs in Lahli
Jammu & Kashmir 6 points, Haryana 0 points
Rajasthan 135 (Lomror 85, Basant Mohanty 6-20) & 148 (Gautam 51, Basant Mohanty 5-29) beat Odisha 111 (Choudhary 5-49, Tanvir 5-14) & 137 (Suryakant Pradhan 56, Choudhary 5-35, Tanvir 3-39) by 35 runs in Bhubaneswar
Rajasthan 6 points, Odisha 0 points
Goa 192 (Kauthankar 79, Abhijit Sarkar 4-29, Ajoy Sarkar 3-42) & 113/3 (Prabhudessai 39*) trail Tripura 358 (Pratyush 110, Rajib Saha 68*, Amit Verma 3-87) by 53 runs in Agartala
Bihar 242 (Babul 43, Lakhan 3-30) beat Meghalaya 125 (Biswa 56, Aman 8-51) & 46 (Aman 6-17, Quadri 4-24) by an innings and 71 runs in Shillong
Bihar 7 points, Meghalaya 0 points
Mizoram 161 (Taruwar 74, Chaudhary 5-57) & 162/8 (Taruwar Kohli 105*, Chaudhary 4-74) trail Sikkim 332 (Milind 139, Sinan 3-74) & 170 (Thapa 44, Bipul 65, Taruwar Kohli 5-39) by 179 runs in Jorhat
Puducherry 136 (Fabid 41*, Deendyal 4-36, Neri 3-28) & 351 (Dogra 139, Fabid 88, Deendyal 4-63, Neri 3-76) beat Arunachal 82 (Fabid 6-29) & 71 (Pankaj 5-25, Rohit 4-7) by 334 runs in Goalpara
Puducherry 6 points, Arunachal Pradesh 0 points
Nagaland 207 (Jonathan 69, Dhapola 5-49) & 182/4 (Rupero 85) trail Uttarakhand 557 (Vineet 185, Panwar 101, Kazi 3-124) lead by 168 runs in Dehradun
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo