The sixth – and penultimate – round of the Ranji Trophy group stage matches were marked by close finishes and round victories, and we even identified a few of the quarter-finalists. But the highlight was Vidarbha defending 73 – the lowest successfully defended target in India’s top class cricket – against Gujarat, and winning by 18 runs in a dramatic victory from behind.
Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka in the quarter-finals
Sumit Kumar hit 70 not out and added 63 for the last wicket with Aman Kumar but Deep’s 5 for 61 gave Bengal a 256 run lead as Haryana was fired for 163. Bengal asked Haryana, the hosts, to follow, but in another batting slump, Haryana went from 129 unbeaten to 206 all out. Deep played again with 5 for 51, Mukesh Kumar taking three.
For Karnataka, captain Mayank Agarwal’s 208 gave them a 143 first set lead over Kerala at Thumba, enough to bag three runs and finish the set top of their group.
Responding to Kerala’s 342, powered by Sachin Baby’s 141, Karnataka declares 484 for 9.
Kerala batted 51 overs in their second innings and came 96 for 4 by the end of the game.
Apart from Agarwal, V Koushik was a star in Karnataka with 6 out of 54 in the opening rounds of Kerala.
Meanwhile, defending champions Madhya Pradesh already had 32 points heading into the sixth round, and despite a set loss to Punjab, they reached the quarter-finals.
Punjab called on MP to call and beat them for 77. On this occasion it was Arshdeep Singh who made it 4 for 30 as Punjab boosted their chances of a place in the last eight.
Sarwate’s 11-for floors Gujarat
Left arm spinner Aditya Sarwate grabbed 5 for 64 and 6 for 17 as Vidarbha stunned Gujarat at VCA Stadium in Nagpur. Gujarat were knocked down for 54, failing to chase 74 in the final innings. It was a record for the lowest first-class target successfully defended in India, surpassing 78 by Bihar against Delhi at Jamshedpur in 1948-49.
Vidarbha’s win came despite trailing 182 in the first set, as they folded themselves 74 on day one. Sanjay Raghunath scored 33, while Chintan Gaja and Tejas Patel took five wickets each.
Sarwate struck with the ball early in Gujarat’s opening innings after opening the bowling, before Aarya Desai and Bhargav Merai added 117 for the second wicket. Aarya had the top score with 88 as Gujarat lost five wickets for 41 runs in a lower order slump to finish on 256.
By then the game had barely entered day two and the action moved quickly. In round two of Vidarbha, Raghunath, Atharva Taide, Akshay Wadkar and Yash Rathod threw respectable starts, before Jitesh Sharma counter-attacked with 69 from just 53 balls – including four fours and five sixes.
Siddharth Desai pocketed 6 for 74 to limit Vidarbha at 254 and Gujarat’s target at 73, only for Sarwate and Harsh Dubey to run through their lineup. Only Desai entered the double digits as Vidarbha got six vital points.
Andhra stuns Saurashtra heavyweights
Left-arm spinner Lalith Mohan took 11 wickets in the game – including a career-best 6 for 58 in the second leg – as Andhra beat Saurashtra by 150 at Rajkot in one of the results of the season .
In the early innings, Andhra batters up to No. 8 made useful contributions, with Ashwin Hebbar’s 109 and Ricky Bhui’s 80 leading. That took them to 415, before Mohan got to work with 5 for 71, pushing Andhra 178 ahead.
With a big lead in place, Karan Shinde hit an undefeated fifty, even as Abhishek Reddy and captain Hanuma Vihari picked up the pace in the second set. Vihari declared 164 and set Saurashtra 343, only for Mohan to catch six more to firm up the result despite Cheteshwar Pujara’s 91.
Bihar and Manipur qualify for Plate final
After a semi-final win over Meghalaya, Bihar qualified for the Plate group final with a landslide victory of 302 points. Wicketkeeper batsman Bipin Saurabh’s 177 helped them to 428 in the opening innings, before Meghalaya was knocked out for 134. But despite having a 294 advantage in the first innings, Bihar struck again.
However, Meghalaya retaliated by grouping Bihar for just 164 to keep their side afloat. Left arm spinner Rajesh Bishnoi took 6 for 30 to give Meghalaya hope, but the 459 target proved way beyond their reach.
In Surat, Manipur didn’t have it easy against Sikkim, whom they beat by just two wickets as they hunted down a 337-run target in the fourth innings. For Sikkim, player of the match Sumit Singh’s overall effort – 56 and 168 with the bat, and 6 of 60 with the ball in the second set – was in vain, as Manipur secured a memorable win.
Numbers that matter
Elite – Dhruv Shorey (Delhi): ten innings, 806 points, average 100.75, three centuries, two half centuries
Plate – Taruwar Kohli (Mizoram): Ten innings, 746 runs, average 74.60, three centuries, three half centuries
Elite – Jalaj Saxena (Kerala): 45 wickets in 11 innings, average 17.93, five five-fors, two 10-fors
Plate – Rajesh Bishnoi (Meghalaya): 39 wickets in 12 innings, average 15.58, five five-fors
Source : WORLD NEWS