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Andhra on verge of securing semi-final berth

Round-up of the third day of the fifth round of the Ranji Trophy Plate League

Group B

Andhra took a big step towards securing a semi-final berth as they took 12 wickets on the third day at the Rural Development Trust Stadium in Anantapur, leaving Kerala 218 runs behind with seven wickets in hand. With Services looking likely to pick up points from their match against Maharashtra, Andhra need to complete the win on Saturday to qualify for the knockout phase. It was a joint effort by Andhra's bowlers on Friday, as they bowled Kerala out for 137, enforced the follow on and then reduced them to 92 for 3 in their second innings. Seamers Doddapaneni Kalyankrishna and Duvvarapu Shivkumar, and legspinner Sairaj Bahutule took three wickets each in the first innings and one each in the second. Kerala were hapless with the bat in their first attempt, with only four batsmen reaching double figures. In the second, Abhishek Hegde provided some resistance with his unbeaten 53.
Services look set to pick up three points against Maharashtra at the Harbax Singh Stadium in Delhi, after opener Pratik Desai's 109 and captain Yashpal Singh's 82 took them to within 41 runs of the first-innings lead, with six wickets in hand. But they need to push for an unlikely win to secure a semi-final berth, as Andhra look set to take maximum points from their match against Kerala. Desai had set the foundation for Services' innings on the second day leading them to 109 for 1 at stumps. He and Jasvir Singh, who made 62, continued building their partnership on Friday. Maharashtra got themselves back into the match, taking three wickets for one run to leave Services at 188 for 4. But Yashpal and Soomik Chatarjee, who made 45 not out, steadied the ship for Services and took them to 346 for 4. Services will have half an eye on Andhra's match on Saturday, as a recovery from Kerala there looks more likely than a win for them.
Vidarbha are in pole position to win their first match of the season, against Jammu & Kashmir, at the Gandhi Memorial Science College Ground in Jammu. Vidarbha reduced the hosts to 224 for 6 in their second innings, leaving them with 43 runs still to get to make Vidarbha bat again. Azhar Sheikh, who made 69 not out in Vidarbha's first innings, continued to have a productive game, as he took 2 for 53 in J & K's second innings. J & K wicketkeeper Arshad Bhatt scored 75 and ensured they at least did better than their first attempt when they were all out for 165.

Group A

Rajasthan made absolutely certain of their semi-final place, as centuries by opener Aakash Chopra and Rashmi Parida took them to 466 for 8 against Jharkhand at the Field Club Ground in Udaipur. Chopra, who started the day on 88 not out, made 109 and then Parida went on to get 174 as Rajasthan built on their overnight total of 186 for 3. Rajasthan lead by 163 and could even push for a win on Saturday.
Shadab Jakati led a fightback by Goa's lower-order that has given them a slim chance of making it through to the semi-finals. Goa are 78 runs ahead of Tripura, with two wickets in hand, in Porvorim. They will need to beat Tripura and then hope Hyderabad somehow avoid giving Madhya Pradesh any points. It's an unlikely situation, but Goa can take heart from the fact that Tripura have been bowled out for less than 100 runs four times this season. They will be hoping that the visitors' 353 in their first innings was an aberration. Goa had almost no chance of making anything out of the match when they started the day at 128 for 4, but Jakati's 75 and useful contributions from the rest of the tail took them to 319 for 8 at the end of a rain-hit third day. Play only started after lunch on Friday. Tripura seamer Timir Chanda completed his first ten-wicket haul in first-class cricket, taking 6 for 107 in Goa's second innings.
Madhya Pradesh look set to pick up three points from their game against Hyderabad at the Gymkhana Ground in Hyderabad, after reducing the hosts to 168 for 4. MP declared on 422, with captain Devendra Bundela scoring 121. Bundela's century made him MP's highest-ever run-getter in the Ranji Trophy. Bundela completed 5798 runs in the tournament, which beats the earlier record held by Amay Khurasiya. Bundela also equalled Khurasiya's record for the most number of Ranji Trophy centuries by an MP batsman, with 16. Hanuma Vihari provided some resistance for Hyderabad with his 81 not out, but will need to bat for long tomorrow to avoid giving MP three points.