Gujarat and Kerala were marching towards victory against Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir respectively on the third day of the fourth round of matches in Group B of the Ranji Trophy 2017-18 on Friday (November 3).
Elsewhere, Saurashtra took the first-innings lead but were caught off guard by Jharkhand’s positive approach in the second innings and might have to settle for a draw.
Siddharth Desai and Piyush Chawla took Gujarat to the brink of victory, sharing seven wickets between them, to leave Haryana 94 for 7 in their second innings, still 267 short of their target. A half-century from Bhargav Merai and contributions from the middle-order batsmen helped Gujarat declare their second innings on 289 for 9 earlier in the day.
Gujarat had already built a 189-run lead on Thursday, but lost Priyank Panchal early, the batsman only able to add a further seven runs to his overnight score of 60 before succumbing to Amit Mishra. Merai pressed on, adding 63 runs with Manprit Juneja before Ashok Sandhu sent him back. The left-arm spinner also accounted for Juneja (36).
Rujul Bhatt and Chirag Gandhi also chipped in with scores of 39 and 25 respectively, but Ashish Hooda, the medium pacer, dismissed both and took two more wickets to hasten the declaration. Hooda ended with figures of 4 for 79 while Amit Mishra had 3 for 73.
For the first 23 overs, Gujarat just ran circles around Haryana’s batsmen. Desai, the left-arm spinner, took the first three wickets while Shubham Rohilla’s 44-ball vigil, yielding just five runs, came to an end when he was sent back by Chawla’s legspin.
Haryana were 28 for 4, and after a three-over respite, they slipped further to 54 for 7. Harshal Patel and Sanjay Pahal then put on an unbroken 40-run partnership to see the side through to stumps, but the match was only headed in one direction. Desai took 4 for 38 while Chawla ended with 3 for 24.
Kerala set Jammu and Kashmir a target of 238 and reduced them to 56 for 7, trailing by 182, to put themselves on course for a big win.
Resuming on 45 for 1, Kerala’s top order struggled against Parveez Rasool’s offspin. The bowler struck thrice in three overs to remove the Jalaj Saxena, Sanju Samson and Sachin Baby.
Kerala were in danger of squandering their 46-run first-innings lead, but Rohan Prem carved out a half-century and added 65 runs with KB Arun Karthik (36). Prem then forged a 43-run partnership with Salman Nazir before he was bowled by Bandeep Singh for 58.
Rasool and Aamir Aziz, the left-arm spinner, cleaned up the tail, with the J&K captain taking 5 for 70 to knock over Kerala for 191. But a target of over 200 on a pitch where only two batsmen in the match had crossed 50 (Prem and Samson, who scored 112 in the first dig), was always going to be difficult.
MD Nidheesh and Basil Thampi, the pacers, struck straightaway and left J&K’s top order in disarray at 11 for 3. The spinners then joined the party. Sijomon Joseph, the left-arm spinner, and KC Akshay, the offspinner, took two wickets each to leave J&K reeling. Rasool couldn’t complement his effort with the ball, but still managed to top score with 17.
Saurashtra bowled out Jharkhand for 270 to claim a 283-run first-innings lead, but the visitors ended the day on 139 for 1 to keep their hopes of salvaging a draw alive.
Resuming on 52 for 2, Jharkhand slipped to 72 for 4 with Shaurya Sanandia dismissing Saurabh Tiwary, the captain, and Sumit Kumar. Ishank Jaggi and Ishan Kishan, however, managed to keep the bowlers at bay for a while with a 133-run partnership.
Kishan fell to Vandit Jivrajani, the offspinner, for 59, but Jaggi carried on to bring up a century even as Jivrajani chipped away at the other end. Jaggi was the last wicket to fall, after making 114 off 171, which featured 15 fours and three sixes. Jivrajani took 4 for 33 as Saurashtra asked Jharkhand to bat again.
However, the wickets didn’t come as easily for Saurashtra in the second innings. Jivrajani removed Shasheem Rathour, but only after a 72-run opening stand between him and Nazim Siddiqui. Rathour contributed only 10 runs, but the intent from Jharkhand was much more positive in the second dig.
Siddiqui and Sumit saw the side through to end of play with an unbroken 67-run stand. Siddiqui was aggressive, batting on 83 off just 58 balls with 11 fours and two sixes, while Sumit was going at a decent clip too, batting on 46 off 55 with six fours and two sixes.