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News

Ranji round four: Rana stars as UP stun Mumbai; Himmat the hero for Delhi

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka post wins to put themselves in a comfortable position

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
29-Jan-2024
Nitish Rana takes a selfie with his UP team-mates after the win against Mumbai  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Nitish Rana takes a selfie with his UP team-mates after the win against Mumbai  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd

We're halfway through the 2023-24 Ranji Trophy. No team has broken away from the pack but 41-time champs Mumbai are looking good for the knockouts despite being stunned by Uttar Pradesh. Saurashtra, the defending champs, are in a pickle, while Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are on an upswing. Here are the highlights from the fourth round of matches.
Himmat the hero as Delhi clinch thriller
You concede a 97-run lead. Then you're 11 for 5 in the second innings, with the top four all dismissed for ducks. Your captain has been sacked midway, and the team is in the midst of administrative turmoil. The selectors aren't on the same page. Senior players have quit the team to play elsewhere. Another 100-Test veteran, Ishant Sharma, is absent. Relegation is a realistic possibility.
These aren't the kind of circumstances you wish for in your first few games as a new captain wanting to make a mark. But it's what Himmat Singh walked out to, trying to save his side from further embarrassment.
A counter-attack that turned into full-blown consolidation eventually ended in an unreal 217-ball 194, comprising 27 fours and a six, as Delhi set Uttarakhand a target of 173, competitive at best if not match-winning.
Young seamer Himanshu Chauhan, all of four games old, then picked up his maiden five-for to ensure Uttarakhand were bowled out for 165 as Delhi squeezed home by seven runs to lift themselves off the bottom of the group.
UP halt Mumbai's winning run
Elsewhere at the Wankhede Stadium, Uttar Pradesh, after three weather-interrupted games, finally put their pieces of the jigsaw together to hand Mumbai their first defeat. UP's two-wicket win was scripted by Aryan Juyal (76) and Karan Sharma (67) as they helped chase down 195.
UP seemed to be cruising at 145 for 4 when offspinner Tanush Kotian ran through the middle and lower order to pick up five wickets, before UP held their nerve. Some of the other contributors for UP were Nitish Rana, the captain, who struck 106 in the first-innings and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who picked up five wickets in the match.
Despite the loss, Mumbai still top Group C. Andhra and Bengal, who beat Assam with a bonus point, are second and third respectively.
TN, Karnataka recover
A week after making a match-winning 245*, Tamil Nadu's N Jagadeesan smashed 321 to help the side to a bonus-point win over Chandigarh. This has helped TN storm back into knockouts contention after they started with an outright loss to Gujarat followed by a weather-interrupted fixture against Tripura.
Meanwhile, Karnataka overcame a mid-tournament stutter to pull off a tense win over Tripura, their second in the season. After a stunning collapse against Gujarat followed by a drawn fixture against Goa where they only managed first-innings honours, Karnataka needed a massive win to bounce back into knockouts reckoning.
They did just that in Agartala, with debutant middle-order bat Kishan Bedare chipping in with two crucial knocks - 62 and 42. He wasn't the only one with key contributions. Vyshak Vijaykumar, the seam bowler, displayed his all-round chops by hitting 50 to help Karnataka make 241. Then in the second innings, he picked 3 for 62 as Karnataka defended 193 in style.
Other significant results:
Defending champs Saurashtra in choppy waters after Services result
Umesh Yadav's four-for helps Vidarbha bounce back to top Group A
Hanuma Vihari's 183 helps Andhra beat Chhattisgarh in Group B
Hyderabad run-away Plate toppers after Tanmay Agarwal's record triple

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo