Madhya Pradesh survived an early wobble to conquer Odisha by seven wickets in Indore and secure their quarterfinal berth from Group C of the Ranji Trophy 2017-18 on Tuesday (November 28). Madhya Pradesh and fellow-qualifiers Mumbai both finished on 21 points, but the former finished on top of the group because they had more outright wins. In the other game in the group, Baroda crushed Tamil Nadu by 102 runs on the final day to record their first victory of the season.
Mihir Hirwani, the legspinner and son of Narendra Hirwani, the former India leggie, was Madhya Pradesh’s hero at the Holkar Stadium, his fourth first-class five-for paving the way for their entry into the quarters.
Trailing by 241 in the first innings after being shot out for 147 on the first afternoon, Odisha had made a strong fist of it by reaching 237 for 4 in their second essay at close on the third day. Mumbai’s qualification meant Madhya Pradesh had to win outright to eliminate Andhra and they must have spent an uneasy night, but Puneet Datey instantly calmed their nerves by sending Shantanu Mishra packing off the first delivery of the day.
Subhransu Senapati, the other overnight batsman, and Natraj Behera resisted staunchly for an hour and a half in adding 55 for the sixth wicket. After Hirwani dismissed Behera, Senapati found another able ally in Deepak Behera as 33 came for the seventh. But when Ankit Sharma, the left-arm spinner, got rid of Senapati, the wheels came off with the last four Odisha wickets falling for just 25 runs.
Senapati’s 125 spanned 259 deliveries and contained 15 fours, but he was shaded by Hirwani’s 5 for 97 from 37 overs.
Madhya Pradesh needed 110 in a little over 50 overs for at least six points that would facilitate their progress to the knockout rounds, but were rocked in the first over itself when Deepak disturbed Rajat Patidar’s furniture. The run-out of Aryaman Birla pegged them back further and there were slight alarm bells following Deepak’s second strike to see the back of Shubham Sharma.
At 45 for 3, Madhya Pradesh needed composure, and that was provided by Devendra Bundela, their experienced captain. Bundela linked up with Harpreet Singh in a qualification-assuring stand of 66, the skipper remaining unbeaten on 50 and Harpreet making 37 not out.
Madhya Pradesh hogged top-dog status because they had three outright wins to Mumbai’s two. Odisha, last year’s quarterfinalists, only mustered six points from their campaign.
Points: Madhya Pradesh 6, Odisha 0
Mumbai’s commanding win over Tripura had already eliminated both Baroda and Tamil Nadu coming into the final day at the Motibaug Cricket Ground, but the home side finished the season strongly with their first outright win, by a comfortable 102-run margin.
Having been set 233 for what would have been their first win of the season, Tamil Nadu were undone by Lukman Meriwala, the left-arm seamer in his first season, and Swapnil Singh, the left-arm spinner. The two shared eight wickets equally as Abhinav Mukund’s men, overnight two without loss, were shot out for 130 in 65.1 overs.
Tamil Nadu’s problems began in the day’s second over when Abhinav was caught by Deepak Hooda, his counterpart, off Meriwala, triggering a stunning side that saw them gasping at 30 for 5. Meriwala added the scalps of N Jagadeesan, the other opener, and B Indrajith while Atit Sheth, the 21-year-old quick, accounted for Kaushik Gandhi and Mohammed Mohammed.
B Aparajith and Washington Sundar defied briefly during a sixth-wicket stand of 49 that was ended by Swapnil, Hooda taking his fifth catch of the innings. When J Kousik was cleaned up by Meriwala, the writing was on the wall at 80 for 7, but Tamil Nadu were not going down without a fight. Aparajith made a patient 60, off 175 deliveries, while V Yomahesh continued his good run with the bat with a solid 23 during an eighth-wicket alliance also worth 49.
But Swapnil quickly brought up the end once Yomahesh fell for 23, picking up the last three wickets in the space of just six deliveries without conceding a run. Swapnil finished with 4 for 21 from 19.1 tight overs, while Meriwala’s early damage helped him return 4 for 22 from 16 overs.
Baroda signed off with 16 points and fourth place in the group while Tamil Nadu, last year’s semifinalists, had a modest 11 points to their name as they ended up in fifth position. It was the first time since 1955-56 that Tamil Nadu failed to record a single outright win in a Ranji season.
Points: Baroda 6, Tamil Nadu 0
Prithvi Shaw’s belligerent unbeaten 50, off just 29 deliveries with eight fours, had hauled Mumbai to a 10-wicket hammering of Tripura on Monday, with a day to spare at the Wankhede Stadium. The seven points helped the 41-time champions seal their quarterfinal berth, with 21 points, though they finished behind Madhya Pradesh in the final standings. Tripura, who slumped to their second loss, propped up the table with four points from six matches.