Former India left-arm spinner Murali Kartik picked up his second five-for of the season to help Railways to an incredible victory by an innings and 94 runs with a day to spare against Uttar Pradesh at the Mohan Meakins Cricket Stadium in Ghaziabad. Having been dismissed for 79, the eighth-lowest total in Ranji history, UP put up more of a fight the second time around, but lost wickets at regular intervals.
Sanjay Bangar and Krishnakant Upadyay, Railways' new-ball bowlers responsible for Uttar Pradesh's downfall in the first innings, got rid of overnight pair of Bhuvenesh Kumar and Mohammad Kaif before lunch. Kartik, who had bowled just one over in the previous innings, overwhelmed the lower order, picking five of the last six wickets to fall and seal Railways' first victory of the season. For Uttar Pradesh this was the second time in two years they were beaten at home. If last year it was Haryana, this time Railways enjoyed a hearty laugh at the expense of their hosts.
Railways had suffered two huge defeats at the start of the season, but now with this win they have ten points in the bag and will be positive about their knockout chances with two home games against Orissa and Saurashtra. In contrast Uttar Pradesh play favourites Mumbai and Karnataka in the next two rounds. "We did not bat well at all. Now we have our backs to the wall," Gynanedra Pandey, UP coach, said of his team's predicament.
Saurashtra achieved the enviable honour of inflicting the follow-on for the second time in three years against Mumbai, who finished 220 runs short of their opponent's first-innings target on the penultimate day. Full report here.
An unbroken 185-run partnership for the fifth wicket between Robin Bist and Rashmi Parida kept Rajasthan's hopes alive against Punjab. At stumps on the penultimate day the defending champions were 321 for 4 in pursuit of 597 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. They still need another 126 runs to avoid the follow-on and 276 to take the lead.
The hosts started the day on a steady note as their most experienced batting pair of Aakash Chopra and Hrishikesh Kanitkar played patiently in the first hour. But immediately after the drinks break Chopra was cleaned up by Birender Sran. At 136 for 4, Rajasthan were in deep trouble but Bist and Parida combined well to quell Punjab's determined bowling attack, which missed Manpreet Gony, who sat out after bowling 11 overs due to a side strain.
The match between Karnataka and Orissa at the East Coast Railway Sports Association in Bhubaneshwar is set for an interesting final day after the visitors finished the third 192 runs ahead with four wickets remaining.
Karnataka threatened to pull away at 80 for 1 in their second innings, after taking a 23-run first-innings lead, but diligent bowling on a helpful pitch by Orissa's bowling attack had the visitors wobbling at 114 for 5. But Amit Verma, who already has a century this season in Mumbai, dug in deep and found support from Sunil Raju, to take Karnataka to 169 for 6. At the start of play Orissa needed 67 runs to take the lead and the eighth-wicket pair of Govind Podder and Basanth Mohanty gave Karnataka pair a scare with a stoic 30-run alliance. But Stuart Binny cleaned up Podder as Orissa eventually managed to add 44 runs to their overnight score of 211 for 7. Binny picked up two wickets on the day, enough to bag his maiden five-for (5-87).
Ambati Rayudu's second hundred of the season helped Baroda set Gujarat a daunting target of 365 to win on the last day at the Moti Bagh Stadium in Vadodara.
Baroda had ended the second day 43 runs ahead with the match still in the balance. But they took control on the third, thanks to Rayudu's 105 that helped them 330 in their second innings. Rayudu had to deal with losing partners at fairly regular intervals - the highest partnership of the innings was 77 for the sixth wicket - but kept playing his strokes, maintaining a strike-rate of 77.20 in an innings that contained 18 fours and a six. Gujarat had an opening at 174 for 5, but Shatrunjay Gaekwad and Abhimanyu Chauhan chipped in with 30s to take the match to a position where Baroda look the only likely winners.
Six wickets in the day from seamer Yo Mahesh left Tamil Nadu needing six wickets to beat Bengal, who were still 52 runs behind at Eden Gardens. Mahesh took four in Bengal's first innings, in which they were bowled out for 176 and made to follow-on. He then struck twice early in Bengal's second innings, sending back both openers. A counterattacking unbeaten half-century from Laxmi Ratan Shukla, his second of the match, gave Bengal some hope but they will have a tough fight on their hands on the final day.
Bengal had a horrific start to the day: they slipped from 84 for 2 to 87 for 5 within the first six overs, all three wickets falling to Mahesh. Shukla tried to get Bengal back in the game and hit eight fours and two sixes in his 62 off 59 balls. But wickets kept tumbling at the other end, and Bengal conceded a 215-run first-innings lead.
Their second innings was rocked early: they slipped to 8 for 2 before a 64-run stand for the third wicket between Shreevats Goswami and Writam Porel steadied them briefly. The pair was dismissed in quick succession and Bengal were in danger of losing by an innings. Shukla, though, produced his second half-century of the match, reaching 50 not out off 55 balls by stumps. For company, he had Sourav Ganguly, who had taken a more measured approach on the way to 28 not out off 68 balls.
A century from Naman Ojha has made Madhya Pradesh favourites to beat Delhi at the Emerald High School Ground in Indore, though three wickets late in the day set up a tense finish. MP needed 59 runs more to snatch a victory with five wickets in hand.
It had looked like MP would cruise to the total when Ojha and Devendra Bundela took them to 187 for 2 with a 186-run partnership. However, seamer Rajat Bhatia kept Delhi in the game with three strikes that left MP 240 for 5 at stumps. Ojha and Bundela's stand came after two wickets had fallen off consecutive balls in the second over of MP's chase, bowled by Parvinder Awana. Ojha was the aggressor, striking at 72.29 and hitting four sixes in his 107, while Bundela was more patient while scoring 68. Ojha was lucky to get away when on 13, 82 and 96, as Delhi fielded sloppily all through.
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