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Sanjay Bangar and Krishnakant Upadhyay skittled Uttar Pradesh out for a shocking 79 - the eighth lowest score in Ranji history - to put Railways in charge at the Mohan Meakins Cricket Stadium in Ghaziabad. No. 4 batsman Prashant Gupta top-scored with 30, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar managed 14, but no other batsman reached double-figures in UP's abject effort.
The story of the day was the performance of Upadhyay, a former Uttar Pradesh Under-22 player who moved to Delhi once he failed to secure a berth in the senior squad. Even with Railways, he did not feature in their first three matches this season. But, against Punjab in the previous round, he picked up a match haul of ten wickets. And on Wednesday, on a seaming pitch, he rocked the UP batting to finish with 4 for 37, while Bangar cleaned up the tail to grab 5 for 20 - the eighth five-for of his career.
Tanmay Srivastava endured a horror day, following up his first-innings effort of 2 with a second-innings duck as UP were forced to follow on, Upadhyay removing him both times. It capped a memorable day for the seamer, who started his handiwork with the bat in the morning, making an unbeaten 31 from No. 10 to steer Railways to 374.
"Uttar Pradesh is one of the big teams in domestic cricket and able to do well against them is special. I played Under-22 cricket for UP but wasn't picked for the senior team. I am really happy I did well against them," Upadhyay said, summing up his day.
Mayank Sidhana and Amitoze Singh cracked maiden centuries on the second day to take the ton-count to four, as Punjab continued to boss Rajasthan at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. The defending champions continued to have a poor season, with the frailties of their bowling line-up exposed yet again in the Elite League. Karan Goel first indulged himself to move from the overnight 116 to 167 before falling to part-timer Vineet Saxena. Uday Kaul and Mandeep Singh fluffed the chance to capitalise on a flat track as Punjab slipped to 401 for 5, but Sidhana and Amitoze were about to shut the door on Rajasthan. The pair made their tons in contrasting styles, with Amitoze slamming 103 off just 97 balls - his first ton in his fifth first-class innings, to go along with three fifties in his debut season. Sidhana was more conventional, consuming 198 balls for 122, though he struck 17 fours and a six to match Amitoze's boundary count. Punjab declared three short of 600, and nipped out Saxena's wicket cheaply to leave Rajasthan facing a difficult third day.
Aakash Chopra was lucky to get away when he was dropped by Mandeep Singh at second slip, depriving Manpreet Gony of a wicket in his first over. Punjab are optimistic of snatching a second outright vicory of the season. "There is no reason why I should be pessimistic even after we scored 597," Punjab coach Vikram Rathour said.
Karnataka found their voice on the second day at the East Coast Railway Sports Association in Bhubaneshwar, as they reduced Orissa to 211 for 7 in reply to their 278. Karnataka lost CM Gautam for 63 in the day's first over, throwing a spanner in their works as they looked for 300. Basant Mohanty and Biplab Samantray finished with three wickets apiece, while Sunil Raju steered Karnataka to their final score. Orissa made a solid start, with the openers adding 55, before Stuart Binny and Santhebennur Akshay sliced through the top order. Samantray resisted with 65, but wickets fell in a clutch around him. Abhilash Mallick and Govind Podder were on the throes of building a resistance, when the former became Binny's third victim. Podder remained unbeaten on 34, and will need to carry on for his side to get the lead. His 97-run combine for the fifth wicket, the highest in the match so far, with Abhilash Mallick has kept Orissa in the contest. With the second new ball due in four overs, a well-fought game can still be expected.
Mumbai were made to toil for the second day running by Saurashtra in Rajkot. For more on that match, click here.
The Motibagh Stadium in Vadodara witnessed a day of swinging fortunes as Baroda snatched the first-innings lead despite succumbing for a mere 203 early on the second day against Gujarat. Resuming at 192 for 7, Baroda's tail had no answer to opening bowler Ishwar Choudhary, who picked up all the three remaining wickets to finish with a five-for. Baroda's bowlers, however, came out undeterred to roll their opponents over for 169. Priyank Panchal and Pratharesh Parmar were the only batsmen to go past 30, as Sankalp Vohra and Firdaush Baksh made rapid incisions. Vohra finished with figures of 4 for 24 to give his side the lead, before Baroda's openers survived seven watchful overs to ensure they held all the aces at stumps. Their chances of making the quarter-finals remain alive.
Tamil Nadu continued their resurgence from the first day to finish with 391, before reducing Bengal to 84 for 2 at Eden Gardens. K Vasudevadas and Ramaswamy Prasanna extended their association to 160, before Prasanna fell in the 14th over of the day's play, for 67. Vasudevadas was lucky on 74 when he was dropped by wicketkeeper Shreevats Goswami off the bowling of Sourav Ganguly. He went on to complete his second first-class century before falling to Ranadeb Bose.
TN captain L Balaji continued Bengal's torment with a dogged, unbeaten 49, and the tail rallied around him to ensure 77 runs were scored after Vasudevadas' exit. Bengal then made careful progress in their first innings, but lost Arindam Das and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala along the way. Trailing by 308 runs, Bengal are one batsman short with Rahul Banerjee, yet to take field, after he got hit on his abdomen, fielding close to the bat. The morning session would be crucial going by the first two days: seven of the twelve wickets have fallen in the first two hours of play.
Delhi snatched a two-run first-innings lead against Madhya Pradesh, and went on to extend the advantage to 240, with three second wickets remaining, as the Group B fixture at the Emerald High School Ground in Indore headed for an early finish. Twenty-seven wickets have fallen over two days, but Delhi assumed complete control on the manic second day. Resuming at 86 for 6, MP were on course for the lead thanks to a 43-run seventh-wicket stand between Amit Sharma and Jalaj Saxena. New-ball operator Parvinder Awana revived Delhi by trapping Saxena in front for a 29-ball 31, with MP still 29 runs adrift. Awana backed that up by running out TP Sudhindra before Ashish Nehra removed Sharma with MP still 15 behind. The last pair inched within striking distance, but Awana removed No. 11 Asif Ali for a nine-ball duck to stop MP just short. Sudhindra then made early inroads for MP to suggest the second innings would be as bowler-dominated as the first, but Mithun Manhas resisted with a stroke-filled 97 off 134 balls that took the game away. Yogesh Nagar contributed a stodgy, unbeaten 35, and will look to extend the lead on the third day. MP are currently third in the table with eight points, two behind toppers Delhi, but have a game in hand.