Yusuf Pathan hit a century in each innings. © BCCI

Yusuf Pathan hit a century in each innings. © BCCI

The last day of the first round of Ranji Trophy 2017-18 matches in Group C turned out to be the most action packed. On Monday (October 9), Madhya Pradesh held off another Yusuf Pathan onslaught and a starring role by Atit Sheth to seal a win in Indore, while in Chennai, both Tami Nadu and Andhra fought till the end in what turned out to be a thrilling draw, when perhaps a few more minutes of play would have brought a result. In Bhubaneswar, there was extended play for the first time in the match, with the first three days having produced only a grand total of two overs.

Madhya Pradesh v Baroda in Indore
Yusuf hit a century in each innings, but despite his feat, Madhya Pradesh beat Baroda by eight wickets in the final session of play at Holkar Cricket Stadium.

Baroda had begun the day on 41 for 1 in their second innings, still a massive 208 runs away from making MP bat again. When an Ishwar Pandey-led burst reduced them to 68 for 7, it seemed a quick finish was on the cards. But Yusuf and Sheth both hit centuries that delayed the inevitable, and Baroda were finally bowled out at the stroke of tea for 318.

Sheth continued his good work by snaring both Wasim Ahmed and Naman Ojha in the very first over, but Harpreet Singh Bhatia and Rajat Patidar ensured there would be no upset by getting to the target of 73 without further ado.

Baroda got off to the worst possible start, losing a wicket off the first ball of the day with Kedar Devdhar caught off Pandey. That seemed to be the rev up Pandey needed, and he took five of the six wickets that fell within the first hour. At the drinks break, Baroda were 68 for 7 in 30 overs, still trailing by 181. Yusuf was still standing, but all of Dhiren Mistry, Pinal Shah, Soaeb Tai, Irfan Pathan and Swapnil Singh had fallen. But Sheth, the 21-year-old pace bowling allrounder, showed admirable batting chops in only his fifth first-class match. Yusuf and Seth put on 218 runs in just 43 overs – a run-rate of 5.07 – to lead a spectacular revival.

Yusuf remained unbeaten on 136 off 154 balls, with 16 fours and seven sixes. The stand was broken by Mihir Hirwani’s legspin, with Sheth caught for a 135-ball 109 that had 16 fours and three sixes. Yusuf tried to farm the strike thereafter, but Hirwani cleaned up the last two wickets soon to bowl Baroda out for 318.

Yusuf, who had hit six sixes in his first-innings 111, thus had 13 hits over the fence for this match, the third highest ever in a Ranji game. He equalled Ravi Shastri, who had also hit 13 sixes in 1984-85, while Delhi’s Rishabh Pant with 21 hits in a match last season leads the way, with Jharkhand’s Ishan Kishan (14) also last season, and the Delhi and Himachal Pradesh seam bowling allrounder Shakti Singh (14) in 1990-91 in second place.

Sheth’s first-over strikes might have caused a flutter, but they were stilled by Bhatia’s unbeaten 44 off 48 balls, with Patidar making 23 not out off 46 as victory was achieved in 16 overs.

Points: Madhya Pradesh 6, Baroda 0

Tamil Nadu v Andhra in Chennai

B Aparajith remained unbeaten on 108 with ten fours. © Getty Images

B Aparajith remained unbeaten on 108 with ten fours. © Getty Images

A match that was headed towards a thrilling finale ended in a draw with Andhra 20 runs away from victory, and Tamil Nadu three wickets short. The draw meant Andhra got three points for their first-innings lead, with a star-studded Tamil Nadu side forced be satisfied with a solitary point at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

Tamil Nadu had resumed on 112 for 2 in their second innings, still trailing by 21 runs. Abhinav Mukund stretched his overnight 54 to 95 before falling to Bhargav Bhatt with Tamil Nadu having gone into the lead at 192 for 3. R Ashwin and Washington Sundar played cameos, the intent perhaps to get runs quickly enough to give themselves time to bowl out Andhra, but B Aparajith held fast at one end. The fall of Washington left Tamil Nadu 253 for 5, but it brought M Vijay back to the crease. Vijay had retired hurt on Monday evening after twisting his ankle on just 13, but he came back to add 42 more runs in a 72-run stand that took up only 74 balls alongside Aparajith.

Later on, N Jagadeesan smacked two fours and a six in making 20 not out off 10 balls and Tamil Nadu declared on 350 for 6 an hour after lunch, setting Andhra a target of 218 to win in one-and-a-half sessions.

Aparajith remained unbeaten on 108 with ten fours, a welcome return to form for the cricketer after a tepid last season. Andhra’s best bowler in the innings was Y Prithvi Raj, the debutant, who took 3 for 61 with his left-arm pace, adding to the 3 for 39 he had taken in the first innings.

Andhra’s batsmen gave the target a fair go, with K Srikar Bharat leading the way at the top of the order. Bharat hit 64 off just 86 balls to keep the tempo at the level needed to force a victory, while Ricky Bhui contributed a run-a-ball 40 from No. 3. But once both fell, Andhra suffered a collapse of sorts. They went from 161 for 2 to 198 for 7, G Hanuma Vihari falling at 41.2 overs. Two balls later, with no runs added, play ended in a thrilling draw.

That meant the two teams have now played 48 matches against each other with Andhra’s only win a thrilling one-run affair in January 1975. Tamil Nadu have won 30 matches, while this was the 17th draw.

While Andhra needed only 20 runs to win, Tamil Nadu also would have fancied their chances given that neither Bhatt and Shoaib Mohammed Khan, the two batsmen at the crease, had scored a run and faced only a total of three balls at that point. K Vignesh (3 for 34), R Ashwin (2 for 92) and Rahil Shah (2 for 46) were Tamil Nadu’s wicket-takers.

Points: Tamil Nadu 1, Andhra 3

Odisha v Tripura in Bhubaneswar
With no play possible on the first two days and only two overs bowled on the third day, Odisha and Tripura finally got in almost a full day’s play on the last day at Vikas Cricket Ground, but it wasn’t enough for both sides to complete even their first innings, meaning they had to each go back with just one point.

Tripura were six without loss in two overs when bad light stopped play on Sunday, and they ended up making 194 for 8 declared on Monday in 68 overs. Odisha got only five overs to bat, in which they reached 18 for 1.

Udiyan Bose, the opener, was Tripura’s bulwark, hitting 104 at the top of the order. The next highest score for Tripura was Yashpal Singh’s 20. Bose, 23, hit his second first-class century while the star for Odisha was Dhiraj Singh, the left-arm spinner, who took 5 for 55. Dhiraj was the one who eventually castled Bose. Tripura’s innings was interrupted by rain once again, at 193 for 8, and on resumption, with only one more run added in three overs, they declared.

That gave Manisankar Murasingh time to trap Sandeep Pattnaik lbw in the first over, but Natraj Behera and Govinda Poddar stayed unbeaten before play ended.

Points: Odisha 1, Tripura 1