India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja helped Saurashtra beat the Railways on the final day of Round 2 of the Ranji Trophy at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Thursday in Rajkot.
Chasing 186 to win on the final day after Railways put in a solid effort for 331 in their second innings, Saurashtra were in a spot of bother at 65/4, but Jadeja scored an unbeaten 48 to take his team home with three wickets in hand.
Jadeja first combined with an 86-run stand with Sheldon Jackson (54) to put Saurashtra on course and then, despite, losing two more wickets, used all his experience to see his team through.
Earlier, it was Jadeja's 178 not out in the first innings that had propelled Saurashtra take a 148-run lead over the Railways.
The Railways were skittled out for 200 in the first innings with Jadeja bagging four wickets.
However, in the second innings, the Railways batted well and scored 331 riding Harish Tyagi's 93 and Anureet Singh's 44.
Jadeja again got three wickets in the second innings.
In reply, chasing 186 for victory, Railways' Avinash Yadav dented Saurashtra claiming the first four wickets to fall, before Jackson and Jadeja put their team on course for a victory. Yadav finished with 5/88.
The win takes Saurashtra to nine points and to the top of the table for the time being.
In another Group A game, Manprit Juneja came good for Gujarat to help the side draw with Chhattisgarh.
Gujarat bagged three points to consolidate its position in second place in Group A after a first-innings lead proved crucial.
Gujarat, who had defeated Baroda by nine wickets in the opening round, are neck and neck on nine points with table-toppers Saurashtra, sitting with a higher net run-rate.
In Nagpur, left-arm spinner Jagadeesha Suchith's nine for 103, his best bowling figures in first-class cricket, helped Karnataka bag three points against defending champions Vidarbha on the final day of their Group A game.
At the Motibaug Cricket Ground in Vadodara, Baroda bagged their first three points owing to a first-innings lead against Maharashtra.
In Group B, left-hander opener Aryaman Birla cracked his maiden first-class hundred to help Madhya Pradesh salvage a draw following on as Bengal had to settle for three points in their first home match of the season.
Scion of the Birla family, Aryaman was unbeaten on 103 in his third first-class match, while Shubham Sharma gave him fine support with an unbeaten 100 on the final day.
Bengal, who had a first innings lead in their last match in Himachal Pradesh, now have six points from two matches. Having taken a first innings lead over Tamil Nadu in the last match, MP now have four points.
Spinners disappoint as Delhi fail to register outright win vs HP
Delhi's left-arm spin duo Vikas Mishra and Varun Sood put up a disappointing show on a helpful last day track as Himachal Pradesh managed to eke out a point in a Ranji Trophy group B encounter here on Thursday.
Needing nine wickets on the final day and Himachal left with an improbable chase of 376, Mishra (2/57 in 33 overs) and Sood (1/51 in 21 overs) failed to break through the opposition middle-order.
HP finished their second innings at 266 for 5, primarily due to Nikhil Gangta (66 no, 184 balls) and Rishi Dhawan (52 no, 110 balls). Sumeet Verma (43, 91 balls) also played his part to perfection as Delhi bowlers sans Ishant Sharma (2/42 in 16 overs) looked below-par.
Ishant, who is gearing up for the Test series in Australia, bowled with real fire but was unlucky as the edges that flew of batsmen's willow didn't carry to wicketkeeper Anuj Rawat and slip fielders.
Only when the India international was bowling, it looked as if something might happen.
The pitch played better than the second day but there was some turn on offer for the Delhi bowlers but negative line employed by both Mishra and Sood after lunch session became their undoing.
Most of the deliveries bowled by Mishra to the right-handers pitched outside the leg-stump, thereby negating any chance of a leg-before decision.
Sood, on the other hand, lacked imagination and bowled straight making it easy for Gangta and Dhawan to defend. At one point of time, they deployed defensive fields with a long on and a deep mid-wicket, making it easy for the batsmen.
Delhi bowled close to 30 overs (29.4 overs) after Himachal lost their fifth wicket at 184 but the two spinners let it drift during the unbroken 82-run stand for the sixth wicket between Gangta and Dhawan.
Once it was tea, senior pros Gautam Gambhir and Ishant didn't take field in the final session as the match had become inconsequential by then.
Delhi 317 and 281/4 decl. HP 223 and 266/5 (Nikhil Gangta 66 no, Rishi Dhawan 52 no, Ishant Sharma 2/42). Points: Delhi 3; HP 1.
Ranji Group C: Rajasthan, UP, Assam notch up wins
Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Assam registered wins in their respective Elite Group C Ranji Trophy matches played across different venues in the country.
While Uttar Pradesh thrashed hosts Odisha by 10 wickets in Bhubaneswar, Assam defeated Tripura by a massive 211 runs in Agartala.
On the other hand, Rajasthan hammered Services by five wickets at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, chasing a stiff 357-run target.
Rajasthan rode on a magnificent 159 by their opener Amitkumar Gautam, who struck 13 fours and six other hits over the fence.
Opener Gautam, who had fallen cheaply in the first innings, and his partner Chetan Bist (78) laid the foundation of the win with their 170-run stand for the first wicket.
23-year-old Gautam, a right-handed batsman, scored runs when his team needed the most. He hammered a listless Services attack as their bowlers leaked runs.
When Gautam fell, the job was nearly done as Rajasthan needed just another 25 runs. Then R K Bishnoi (26 not out) and T N Dhillon (10 not out) took their side home with five wickets to spare as Rajasthan earned six points from the game.
At Jaipur: Services 228 and 264 against Rajasthan 136 and 357/5 (A V Gautam 159, Chetan Bist 78).
Rajasthan won by five wickets.
At Bhubaneswar: Odisha 256 and 221 (Sandeep Pattnaik 46, Shivam Mavi 5-68) versus Uttar Pradesh 437 and 44/0 (Madhav Kaushik 22 not out). Uttar Pradesh won by 10 wickets.
At Agartala: Assam 327 and 239/6 Declared (Riyan Parag 80) versus Tripura 139 and 216 (Harmeet Singh 33, Mukhtar Hussain 5-73). Assam won by 211 runs.
At Porvorim: Goa 468/9 Declared versus Jammu and Kashmir 271 and 242/5 (Ian Chauhan 113 not out). Match Drawn. Goa take first innings lead.
Puducherry get three points against Meghalaya
Debutants Puducherry opened their account with three points by virtue of a first innings lead over Meghalaya in a rain-hit Ranji Trophy Plate Group fixture on Thursday.
Resuming the day on 95/4 in their second innings, Puducherry were 129/7 when rain stopped play in 47.1 overs at the Siechem ground here.
With cyclone Gaja looming large, there was no respite from a downpour as only 17.1 overs could be possible and home team got three points, thanks to their first innings lead.
Puducherry had made 389 in their first innings before bowling out Meghalaya for 326.
Rain remained the common feature in the second match of the group in Jorhat where the final day's play was abandoned without a ball being bowled as Arunachal Pradesh were lucky to bag three points, thanks to their first innings lead over Mizoram.
Set a target of 410 runs, Mizoram were going great runs and needed 166 runs on the final day with eight wickets in hand.
Taruwar Kohli was batting on 85 along with skipper Michael Lalremkima (15) but incessant rains meant that no play was possible at the DSA Stadium in Jorhat and Arunachal Pradesh were happy to secure three points.
In Jorhat: Arunachal Pradesh 220 and 331; 96 overs (Neelam Obi 80, K Yangfo 58, Kshitiz Sharma 57; Khadir 3/81). Mizoram 142 and 244/2; 59 overs (Akhil Rajput 124, Taruwar Kohli 85). Match drawn. Points: Arunachal Pradesh 3, Mizoram 1.
In Puducherry: Puducherry 389 and 129/7; 47.1 overs (Marimuthu Viknesh 47; Gurinder Singh 5/44). Meghalaya 326. Match drawan. Points: Puducherry 3, Meghalaya 1.
With inputs from IANS and PTI
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It is learnt that the Indian team management wants to play to its strength and there could be a turner on offer with Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel ready to exploit the conditions to the fullest.
Ashwin hit an excellent 106 in India's second innings and took eight wickets with his off-spin in the second Test against England in Chennai, which the hosts won by 317 runs on Tuesday.
The spin combination of left-armer Patel and off-spinner India vs England exploited the turning Motera pitch at the newly-inaugurated Narendra Modi stadium to the full and England's first innings folded in just 48.4 overs after the visitors opted to bat.