Mumbaicame back from the brink to beat Goa to keep their Ranji Trophy hopes alive. Denied a win by Saurashtra under fading light last week, nothing less than a victory would’ve sufficed, and when they were bowled out for 168 in the first innings, things appeared bleak.
Their hopes flagged further when Goa took a 164-run lead. Then Ajinkya Rahane (56) and Sarfaraz Khan (48) led a rearguard, but when Mumbai’s last recognised batter in Aditya Tare was out, they were effectively 34 for 6. The last four added 197, with offspinner Tanush Kotian (98) and Shams Mulani (50) making significant contributions to set up a 232-run target.
Having contributed with the bat, Mulani then did damage with his left-arm spin as Goa slumped to 55 for 7. Then in the final session, Goa began to count down time as the last-wicket pair of Amulya Pandrekar and Amit Yadav batted out 14 overs. Just as hopes of a draw loomed, Kotian fittingly picked up the final wicket to finish with a five-for as Mumbai pulled off a remarkable 119-run victory.
Saurashtra, Mumbai’s closest competitors for a top spot in Group D, also kept their hopes alive by beating Odishawith a bonus point. Mumbai remain on top of the group, with Saurashtra one point behind.
Chirag Jani was the star for the defending champions, top-scoring with 235 in a massive first innings score of 501 for 6. Dharmendrasinh Jadeja then came into his own with his left-arm spin, picking up 11 wickets across two innings as Odisha, who were made to follow-on, being bowled out for 165 and 205 across both innings. Saurashtra’s all-round attack withstood 143 overs of hard grind at a stretch, with Jaydev Unadkat, the captain, and Chetan Sakariya also among the wickets.
Bengal, runners-up from the previous season, continued their golden run to surge to a second straight win to top Group B and come within sniffing distance of a playoff berth. Fast bowler Akash Deep and Shahbaz Ahmed, the left-arm spinner, shared the spoils as Hyderabad were shot out for 166 in pursuit of 239. Shahbaz had also played a hand in building the lead by making 51 in the second innings.
In Group C, Karnataka are firmly on top after beating Jammu & Kashmir comfortably. Karun Nair struck his first Ranji Trophy hundred since the 2017-18 season to set up a mammoth first-innings score before fast bowler Prasidh Krishna took a six-for to skittle J&K cheaply in the first innings. Then, Nair was once again at the forefront with an unbeaten 71 as Karnataka set J&K a target of 508. Captain Ian Dev Singh battled hard to make a century, along with some contributions from Abdul Samad and the lower order before the innings folded for 390 to give Karnataka victory by 117 runs.
Kerala and Madhya Pradesh are neck and neck in Group A with two wins in as many games. This sets up a pot boiler of a final round contest between the two sides, with the team taking the lead or winning outright qualifying for the knockouts. Kerala’s win was fashioned by twin hundreds from opener Rohan Kunnummal. Gujarat, without regular captain Priyank Panchal who is with the Indian Test team, have lost both their games so far.
With two wins in two, Uttarakhand are favourites to qualify from Group E, also consisting of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Meanwhile, Mandeep Singh‘s unbeaten 159* studded Punjab’sbonus-point win over Haryana takes them to the top of Group F.
In Group H, Delhi made a brave fist of a mammoth final day chase before falling 15 short against Jharkhand. Set 336, Dhruv Shorey led the surge with 136, with Jonty Sidhu contributing 59. At 309 for 6, Delhi looked to be in a good position to win, before Lalit Yadav’s run out turned the tide in Jharkhand’s favour. Chandigarh are current toppers of the group with seven points, with Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand also in contention with six points. Delhi are out of the running for a knockouts berth.
The plate group is headlined by Nagaland’s surge to two wins, including one with a bonus point. Manipur are second, and are best placed to cause an upset from the Plate group.