Ashok Dinda's five-for set up Bengal's passage into the knockouts. © Getty Images

Ashok Dinda’s five-for set up Bengal’s passage into the knockouts. © Getty Images

Despite Punjab failing to qualify for the Ranji Trophy 2017-18 knockouts from Group D, the stunning effort of their young batsmen hogged a lot of the limelight on the last day of the final round of group-stage games on Tuesday (November 28).

Meanwhile, Vidarbha, who had already qualified for the quarterfinals, finished as the table-toppers with 31 points after a draw against Himachal Pradesh, while the first-innings lead against Goa was enough for Bengal to finish second with 23 points.

Bengal v Goa in Kolkata
After Ashok Dinda’s 25th first-class five-wicket haul all but ensured Bengal the three points they needed to qualify for the knockouts on the previous day, Anustup Majumdar and Writtick Chatterjee scored unbeaten centuries on the final day against Goa as the match ended in a draw.

Resuming on 108 for 3 in their second innings at Eden Gardens after having secured the all-important lead – of 69 runs – Bengal lost Abhimanyu Easwaran and Shreevats Goswami, the overnight batsmen, early but an unbroken 214-run partnership between Majumdar and Chatterjee took them to 334 for 5 before they declared. Majumdar, who had scored a crucial 119 in the first innings, ended with 108 not out from 183 balls with 11 fours, and Chatterjee had 102 not out from 133 balls, also with 11 boundaries.

Chasing 404 in just over a session of play left, Goa lost their openers Prathamesh Gawas and Swapnil Asnodkar to Dinda (2 for 13), who had 5 for 79 in the first innings.

First-innings centurion Amogh Desai (22 not out) and Snehal Kauthankar (53 not out) spent time in the middle to take Goa to 86 for 2 in 26 overs before the match was called off with an hour left to play.

Points: Bengal 3, Goa 1

Shubman Gill (in pic) and Abhishek Gupta gave Punjab a shot at an unlikely outright win before they were thwarted. © Getty Images

Shubman Gill (in pic) and Abhishek Gupta gave Punjab a shot at an unlikely outright win before they were thwarted. © Getty Images

Punjab v Services in Amritsar
After Anmolpreet Singh’s unbeaten 252 helped Punjab declare on 645 for 6 in their first innings, they bowled Services out for 315 with Manpreet Gony picking up five wickets.

Services then started the final day on 118 for 3 after following-on, and Rahul Gahlaut and Ravi Chauhan, the overnight batsmen, made sure Punjab couldn’t make early inroads. The two formed a 206-run partnership and in the process also brought up their centuries.

The stand was finally broken when Siddarth Kaul, who was included in India’s One-Day International squad for the series against Sri Lanka, ran out Gahlaut on an individual score of 124, with 19 boundaries and a six.

Having lost his partner, Chauhan found a new ally in the form of Vikas Hathwala (41) as the two dug their heels for a while before perishing in quick succession, Chauhan falling for 112, studded with 16 fours and a six. Services were just 46 ahead then, but the last-wicket stand between Sachidanand Pandey (31 not out in 44 balls) and Raj Bahadur (52 in 47) stretched that to 128 and denied Punjab a win. The two came together for 82 runs, and helped Services finish on 458 in 105 overs.

Chasing 128 runs with less than an hour to go, Shubman Gill (32 in 16) and Abhishek Gupta (26 in 13) blasted 64 runs together in just 4.2 overs to give Punjab a hope of pulling off a stunning victory. But three quick wickets from Pandey (3 for 26) reduced Punjab to 94 for 5 in 6.1 overs to put the brakes on their charge towards an outright victory.

While Punjab finished their season with 18 points, Services could only manage 10 points from six games.

Points: Punjab 3, Services 1

Vidarbha v Himachal Pradesh in Nagpur
A gritty unbeaten century from Nikhil Gangta alongside half-centuries from Sumeet Verma, the Himachal Pradesh captain, and Rishi Dhawan denied Vidarbha victory at the Vidarbha Cricket Association ground.

Vidarbha had reduced HP to 70 for 3 in their second stint after taking a 103-run first-innings lead, but Gangta remained unconquered on a 260-ball 101, his fifth first-class century to help the visiting team declare on 323 for 8 in 96.1 overs. The teams agreed to call of the game at that point with Vidarbha not coming out for their second dig.

The 25-year-old found good support from Verma (59) and Dhawan (53) before the two fell to Aditya Sarwate (6 for 75), the left-arm spinner. Coming in at No. 11, Pankaj Jaiswal smacked five sixes in his entertaining knock of 37 runs that came off just 18 deliveries.

Points: Vidarbha 3, Himachal Pradesh 1