Rajasthan halted the run of 39-time champions Mumbai and entered the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy. The result was almost a foregone conclusion at the end of the second day, but they had to wait till the fourth evening to finally celebrate. Forget winning, they hadn't taken a first-innings lead over Mumbai in 50 years and Aakash Chopra caught the spirit of the moment when he wrote, "It's not often that you have the champions on the mat and the moment is worth a lot more than just a result going your way." Rajasthan will now meet Tamil Nadu in Jaipur on January 3.
For Rajasthan, the fourth day was all about waiting for play to end so they could start their celebrations.They were given added reason to smile as Ashok Menaria, the former India Under-19s captain who replaced Vaibhav Deshpande this game, completed his maiden first-class century. He hit eight fours and five sixes and was the last man out as Rajasthan batted out two hours at the start of the final day. Mumbai then scored 290 for 1 with Ajinkya Rahane and Sahil Kukrejka hitting hundreds. Rahane, in particular, provided some entertainment with a 69-ball 102 runs with 12 fours and three sixes.
R Sathish hit a fine hundred to ensure Tamil Nadu prevailed over Haryana to enter the semi-finals by virtue of a better run-rate in the match at the Bansi Lal Stadium in Lahli. Haryana will be disappointed that they had to end on the losing side despite dominating most of the game. In another fog-hit day when only 55 overs were possible, Sathish revived Tamil Nadu from 91 for 4 to finish on 285 for 6. He found great support in Dinesh Karthik, who had had a horror season before this game, and added 91 runs for the fifth wicket.
The equation was simple at the start of the day: if a minimum of thirty overs were bowled in Tamil Nadu's first innings, the team with the higher net run-rate in this game would advance to the semis. If the fog didn't allow that many overs to be completed, the net run-rate from the league stage would have applied and Tamil Nadu would have gone through.
Haryana began promisingly as Joginder Sharma and Sanjay Budhawar knocked out the in-form batsmen Abhinav Mukund and K Vasudevadas to leave Tamil Nadu wobbling at 91 for 4 in the 34th over. However, Sathish revived Tamil Nadu with a refreshing knock; he played his shots from the start and went after Sachin Rana in particular. Haryana were further handicapped as their captain Amit Mishra had a lacklustre day with the ball (0 for 53 in 12 overs). Though Karthik fell, lbw to Budhawar, Sathish found an able ally in C Ganapathy (17* in 100 minutes) and added 95 runs for the seventh wicket. Sathish finally fell but Ganapathy played out the final 3.5 overs in the company of R Ashwin to take Tamil Nadu to the semis
Baroda staved off a tough fight from Railways and qualified for the semi-finals on the basis of their first-innings lead. Railways fought bravely in the second innings but it was always going to be a tough ask for them to clinch an outright win after yielding a 168-run lead.
Railways' plan was simple on the final day: get some quick runs, declare and hope for a minor miracle from the bowlers. Prashant Awasthi was run out after completing his hundred and Dhiran Salvi made a quick 40 as they set Baroda a target of 199. There was to be no miracle, though, as Baroda reached 136 for the loss of just three wickets to ensure their progress to the semis. Connor Williams and the first-innings centurion Kedar Devdhar hit fifties to settle Baroda's nerves after opener Jaikishan Kolsawala was trapped lbw by Jai Prakash Yadav. Though Devdhar and Rakesh Solanki fell, Williams remained unbeaten to ensure Railways went out of the competition.