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Vidarbha set up semi date against MP; TN to face Mumbai

Andhra slipped in pursuit of maiden semi-final berth; Saurashtra bowed down in innings defeat

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
26-Feb-2024 • Updated on 27-Feb-2024
Vidarbha comfortably brushed past the Karnataka challenge in the quarter-final  •  PTI

Vidarbha comfortably brushed past the Karnataka challenge in the quarter-final  •  PTI

Vidarbha 460 (Taide 109, Rathod 93, Nair 90, Kaverappa 4-99) and 196 (Shorey 57, Kaverappa 6-61) beat Karnataka 286 (Jose 82, Samarth 59, Thakur 3-48, Sarwate 3-50) and 243 (Agarwal 70, Sarwate 4-78) by 127 runs
Vidarbha progressed to the Ranji Trophy semi-final with a resounding 127-run win over Karnataka in Nagpur, where they will meet Madhya Pradesh.
Victory was achieved courtesy an outstanding spell of left-arm spin bowling early on the final day by Aditya Sarwate. The two-time Ranji winner picked up the key wickets of Mayank Agarwal and Manish Pandey early to hasten Karnataka's meltdown. He ended with figures of 4 for 78 to take his match haul to seven wickets.
Karnataka began the day with dreams of a heist. At 103 for 1, they needed a further 268 runs. There was hope because Agarwal had battled superbly late on the fourth day during his 101-run opening stand with R Samarth, but he fell for 70, tamely chipping one to mid-on after being deceived in flight.
Nikin Jose, who top scored with 83 in the first innings, fell two balls later for a duck, and Pandey was out lbw by an arm-ball that skidded through to crash into the pad. From 127 for 1, Karnataka slipped quickly to 131 for 4.
Seeing the amount of turn on offer on a final-day surface, Vidarbha then turned to Harsh Dubey's left-arm spin, and he removed Hardik Raj after a brief 40-run partnership with KV Aneesh. Replays however seemed to suggest the ball may have missed leg.
The lower-order collapsed without a fight, with two run-outs further rubbing salt into Karnataka's wounds. Right towards the end, Vyshak Vijaykumar and Vidwath Kaverappa swung their way to cameos that only reduced to margin of defeat.
Karnataka were always up against it right from when they were bowled out for 286 to concede a 174-run lead. The cushion meant Vidarbha had the edge even though they collapsed to 196 all out in their second innings, with Kaverappa triggering the slide with an inspired spell with the old ball on either side of tea on the third day. He took 6 for 61.
Dhruv Shorey, Vidarbha's Delhi import, top scored with 57 in the second innings, while their first-innings effort was headlined by Atharva Taide's 107 and Karun Nair's 90. Taide's runs will be all the more pleasing for the management considering they will need to find a strong opening combination following Faiz Fazal's retirement after a two-decade-long first-class career.
Vidarbha will now run into MP, a familiar opponent with a familiar coach - Chandrakant Pandit - who guided them to back-to-back titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19.


Madhya Pradesh knock Andhra out in thriller

Madhya Pradesh 234 (Dubey 64, Mantri 49, Sasikanth 4-37) and 107 (Mantri 43, Nitish 4-28) beat Andhra 172 (Shinde 38, Anubhav 3-33, Kartikeya 3-41) and 165 (Vihari 55, Anubhav 6-52) by four runs
In a game that wildly swung both ways in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, champions of 2021-22, held their nerve to inflict heartbreak on Andhra to enter the Ranji Trophy semi-finals. Playing a key role in their defence of 170 was fast bowler Anubhav Agarwal, who picked up career-best figures of 6 for 52 as Andhra were bowled out for 165 while chasing 170.
Andhra's dreams of a maiden semi-final berth looked possible at 112 for 4, before Agarwal cracked opened the game with wickets in consecutive overs. He first had Karan Shinde lbw and then dismissed Hanuma Vihari, the captain, caught behind. Until then, Vihari had looked assured in defence to make a stonewalling 55 off 136 balls. When Agarwal dismissed Shoaib Khan for a first-ball duck, Andhra were 118 for 7, still 52 away.
Ashwin Hebbar, the allrounder, kept fighting and added 32 for the ninth wicket with fast bowler Girinath Reddy. The pair batted out 13 overs to frustrate MP before Agarwal returned to dismiss Girinath.
The final wicket was picked up by their new import, Kulwant Khejroliya, the left-arm fast bowler, when he dismissed Hebbar for 22 as MP pulled off a heist that looked a tad difficult when they were shot out for 107 in the second innings.
That total, as modest as it may seem, was only possible because Himanshu Mantri, the wicketkeeper, batted with tremendous grit to score 43. In the overall context, his scores of 49 and 43 in the match were massively significant, even though Agarwal was named Player of the Match for his haul of 9 for 85.
Andhra would reflect upon several moments where they seemed to have the upper hand, only to let it slip. In the first innings, they bundled out MP for 234, but couldn't capitalise with the bat as they fell behind by 62 runs.
Then they came storming back through Nitish Reddy and KV Sasikanth, who picked up seven wickets between them, as MP were skittled for 107, before they collapsed in the second innings again.


Sai Kishore spins Tamil Nadu to semi

Tamil Nadu 338 (Indrajith 80, Boopathi 65, Jani 3-22) beat Saurashtra 183 (Desai 83, Sai Kishore 5-66) and 122 (Pujara 46, Sai Kishore 4-27, Warrier 3-18) by an innings and 33 runs
R Sai Kishore picked up a match haul of 9 for 93 along with a combative half-century in the first innings to help Tamil Nadu trounce defending champions Saurashtra, the defending champions, by an innings and 33 runs. Their quarter-final win in Coimbatore now gives TN their first semi-final entry since 2016-17.
Sai Kishore, with impressive numbers of 47 wickets at an average of 18.78, rose to the top of the wickets tally for the season. He has also managed two half-centuries with the bat.
It was his exploits with the ball that made a massive difference in the semi-final though. He picked up 5 got 66 to restrict Saurashtra to 183 in the first innings, 83 of those by Harvik Desai.
TN were wobbling at 134 for 4 when Sai Kishore was dismissed. However, Baba Indrajith and Boopathi Kumar, in only his maiden first-class season, hit half-centuries during a 119-run stand and powered TN into the lead. Key contributions from the lower order then gave them a 155-run cushion.
Saurashtra's second innings started poorly as they were reduced to 20 for 2 courtesy fast bowler Sandeep Warrier. Cheteshwar Pujara held the innings together briefly to top score with 46, but Sai Kishore ran rampant again, and when Pujara became the eighth batter to be dismissed, an innings defeat was inevitable.


Deshpande, Kotian tons deflate Baroda

Mumbai 384 (Musheer 203, Bhatt 7-112) and 569 (Deshpande 123, Kotian 120, Tamore 114, Bhatt 7-200) drew with Baroda 348 (Solanki 136, Rawat 124, Mulani 4-121) and 121 for 3 (Moliya 54*, Rawat 32, Kotian 2-16)
Mumbai marched into the Ranji semi-finals after Baroda fell apart in the third innings of a game that was on an even keel for three days.
For the record, the game ended in a draw with Mumbai progressing on the basis of a first-innings lead. Up next in their path is Tamil Nadu, who've made their first semi-final since 2016-17.
Having made 384, Mumbai saw Baroda mount a serious challenge as they serenely progressed to 239 for 2, as captain Vishnu Solanki and Shashwat Rawat hit hundreds. But just with a first-innings lead looming, they collapsed as Mumbai's spinners took control.
Shams Mulani, Tanush Kotian and Musheer Khan, who struck an unbeaten double century in the first innings, picked up seven wickets between them as Baroda were bowled out for 348.
Having pocketed a 36-run lead, Mumbai were in trouble at different stages. At 214 for 5, with the lead still within grasp, Baroda sniffed a slim chance of a win. And then they blew it.
From 339 for 9, they saw Tushar Deshpande and Kotian add 232 for the tenth wicket, the second-highest for the 10th wicket in Ranji Trophy history behind Ajay Sharma and Maninder Singh's 233-run partnership vs Bombay in 1991-92 semi-final.
Deshpande made 123, the highest by an Indian No. 11 in first-class cricket, surpassing Shute Banerjee's 121 against Surrey in 1946. During the course of their record stand, Kotian and Deshpande became only the second Nos. 10 and 11 to score 100s in the same first-class innings, after Chandu Sarwate 124* and Banerjee 121 for Indians vs Surrey in 1946.
All this allowed Mumbai to ransack 569 before they were bowled out on the fifth morning, which reduced the result to a mere formality. The captains shook hands after tea with Baroda on 121 for 3.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo