© Getty Images

Mayank Agarwal became only the third Karnataka batsman after KL Rahul and Karun Nair to score a triple century in the tournament. © Getty Images

Mayank Agarwal hogged most of the limelight in Group A with a brilliant unbeaten 304 that took Karnataka to a commanding position against Maharashtra on the third day of the fourth round of Ranji Trophy 2017-18 matches on Friday (November 3). In the two other games in the group, Ravi Teja’s five-wicket haul gave Hyderabad the upper hand against Railways, while the match between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh was all set for a thrilling finish.

Maharashtra v Karnataka in Pune
Agarwal brought up his maiden first-class triple century to take Karnataka to a massive 628 for 5 declared before their pacers stuck crucial blows again to reduce Maharashtra to 135 for 4 in their second innings at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

Resuming the day at 461 for 2 in reply to Maharashtra’s 245, Agarwal, overnight 219, became only the third Karnataka batsman after KL Rahul and Karun Nair to score a triple century in the tournament, also the third 300-plus score of the ongoing season after Prashant Chopra and G Hanuma Vihari.

He was well supported by Nair, who scored a sedate 116, his second century of the season, before falling to Chirag Khurana (3 for 147), the legspinner. Nair and Agarwal added 270 runs for the third wicket to take the game well beyond Maharashtra’s reach and gift Karnataka a 383-run lead. Soon after Agarwal reached the 300-run mark, R Vinay Kumar, the captain, asked Maharashtra to bat again.

Agarwal’s innings came off 494 balls in over 12 hours and included 28 fours and four sixes, while Nair hit 13 boundaries in his 256-ball knock.

Chasing a huge deficit, Maharashtra lost Swapnil Gugale, Harshad Khadiwale, Ankit Bawne and Naushad Shaikh cheaply but an unbroken 51-run stand between Ruturaj Gaikwad and Rahul Tripathi, who scored a 114-ball 120 in the first essay, provided the home side some stability. At close of play, Gaikwad had 61 and Tripathi 33.

Delhi v Uttar Pradesh in New Delhi

Ishant Sharma left UP's top-order in disarray by picking up three of the first four wickets to fall. © BCCI

Ishant Sharma left UP’s top-order in disarray by picking up three of the first four wickets to fall. © BCCI

After UP had been reduced to 21 for 4 in their second innings, Akshdeep Nath crafted a brilliant unbeaten 110 on the third day to stretch his team’s lead to 246 against Delhi at the Palam A ground.

20 minutes before the scheduled close, a man drove his car into the field of play and on to the pitch while the match between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh was going on at the Palam A ground. The game had to be extended till 5.30pm due to make up for lost time.

Ending the second day on 228 for 6, Delhi could only add 41 runs as they were bundled for 269, 22 short of UP’s 291. Dhruv Shorey remained unconquered on 98 as none of Delhi’s last four batsmen could survive long enough to let him complete his third first-class ton.

For UP, Saurabh Kumar finished with 4 for 87, while Imtiaz Ahmed (3 for 33) and Ankit Rajpoot (2 for 82) also made vital contributions to the cause.

Ishant Sharma, the Delhi captain, left UP’s top-order in disarray by picking up three of the first four wickets to fall. Nath then joined hands with Rinku Singh (64) to dig his side out of trouble with a 108-run partnership. The stand was finally broken by Pulkit Narang, but with some support from Upendra Yadav (23), the wicketkeeper-batsman, UP managed to finished day three on 224 for 7 in 63 overs.

Railways v Hyderabad in New Delhi
Ravi Teja, the right-arm medium pacer, took 5 for 49 as Railways were bowled out for 246 in their first innings to concede a 228-run lead and were asked to follow-on by Hyderabad at the Karnail Singh Stadium, reaching 13 for no loss by close.

After Hyderabad declared on 474 for 9 in their first innings, Shivakant Shukla (48), Nitin Bhille (43) and Arindam Ghosh (20) started solidly but none them went on long enough for Railways. While Ravi Teja was the chief destructor, Mehdi Hasan and Akash Bhandari also chipped in with two wickets apiece.

The eighth-wicket pair of Manish Rao (33 not out) and Anureet Singh did their best to push Hyderabad by putting together an 85-run stand but eventually fell short. Anureet smacked nine fours on his way to a 95-ball 60 before becoming Ravi Kiran’s only victim.

With Saurabh Wakaskar and Shivakant Shukla at the crease, Railways saw out the day but need 215 more runs to make Hyderabad bat again.