Gujarat, the defending champions, powered to the top of the Group B standings in the Ranji Trophy 2017-18 after completing an innings-and-107-run win over Rajasthan in Surat on Monday (November 20) in a sixth-round game. Gujarat knocked Kerala off the perch, the southern side having temporarily assumed top-dog status following their 309-run win over Saurashtra in Thiruvananthapuram earlier in the day.
Trailing by 448 on the first innings and beginning the final morning on 183 for 4, Rajasthan made a brave fist of it but the task proved well beyond them at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium as Siddharth Desai, the left-arm spinner, picked up his third five-wicket haul in his maiden first-class season to send them packing for 341.
Chetan Bist and Robin Bist had both made half-centuries on the third evening, and Mahipal Lormor tried to keep the lower order together while making a sparkling 60, off 98 deliveries with eight fours and a six. But Rajasthan’s requirement wasn’t all-out aggression. They needed batsmen who could play out time so that they could come away with at least one point, but that wasn’t to be despite staunch efforts from Rajesh Bishnoi (29 in 58 balls at No. 8), Siddharth Dobal (30 in 65 at No. 9) and an unbeaten 28 from 52 balls by Tajinder Singh, the No. 10.
Desai, who took the new ball and sent down 39 overs, finished with 5 for 129 while Piyush Chawla, the legspinner, lent able support with 3 for 80, signaling victory by cleaning up Pankaj Singh, the last man.
Their fourth outright win in five matches lifted Gujarat to 27 points, two ahead of Kerala, while Rajasthan remained stuck on five points from as many matches.
Points: Gujarat 7, Rajasthan 0
Chasing 405 for an unlikely win at the St Xavier’s College ground, Saurashtra started the final day on 30 for 1, with Avi Barot back in the hut and Robin Uthappa and Snell Patel in the middle. With Sijomon Joseph, who had sent back Barot on the third day, running riot, neither batsman could add much to their overnight scores. Uthappa fell for 12 and Snell for 20, leaving the visiting side on 42 for 3 in the 23rd over.
Jalaj Saxena took charge after that, getting rid of Jaydev Shah, the captain, Prerak Mankad and Jay Chauhan, and Saurashtra were 91 for 6 and down for the count. Sheldon Jackson, strong at one end, finally fell to KC Akshay as the left-arm spinner combined with Saxena to wipe out the tail in double-quick time, Saurashtra’s second innings lasting just 51.3 overs.
Earlier, Saurashtra had taken a seven-run lead following the first-innings exchanges, but Sanju Samson’s electric 180-ball 175 helped Kerala declare their second innings on 411 for 6 and give their trio of spinners – Joseph (3 for 27), Saxena (4 for 29) and Akshay (3 for 23) – more than a day to get their team six points. As it turned out, they needed only a fraction of that time.
With the win, Kerala temporarily moved to the top of the group table with 24 points from five games, just ahead of Saurashtra, who have 23 points from five games.
Points: Kerala 6, Saurashtra 0
Haryana v Jammu and Kashmir in Lahli
Haryana earned a narrow 18-run win against J&K in a closely-fought game at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Stadium after bowling the visiting side out for 157 in their second innings.
Set a target of 175 on a pitch where 184 – in the Haryana first innings – finished as the highest team total across four innings, J&K failed to string big partnerships together, and Ajit Chahal, the right-arm pacer, bagged 5 for 53 in 19 overs to exploit their batting frailties.
Owais Shah, batting at No. 5, remained unbeaten on 52, but with no one apart from Bandeep Singh (44) and Parveez Rasool (33) offering any resistance, Owais ran out of support. Apart from the three of them, everyone got out for single-digit scores, depriving J&K of a second win for the season.
In the morning, after resuming on 161 for 9, Haryana only added six runs before being bowled out for 167 with Ram Dayal, the medium pacer, returning 6 for 44. At that stage, it looked like J&K had a chance, but a clinical show from their bowlers handed Haryana their first win of the season, the six points helping them get off the bottom of the group table.
Points: Haryana 6, Jammu and Kashmir 0