Rajkot: Ravindra Jadeja firmed up his chances of making a Test debut for India this week with a four-wicket haul of left-arm spin as Saurashtra beat Bengal by 270 runs on Monday to jump to second place in the Ranji Trophy Group A table. The 24-year-old, who on the weekend earned a call-up to the squad for the fourth Test against England in Nagpur after a very strong start to the domestic season, had a big role in Saurashtra's first win with scores of 70 and 68 and match figures of 8 for 98.
Having picked up the wicket of Wriddhiman Saha on the third evening as Bengal finished the day on 65 for 3 in front of a target of 431, Jadeja added three wickets to set the tone for a big win for the hosts. He first removed Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, bowled for 25 in the tenth over of the morning, and then had Robin Banerjee lbw for 47 and Shami Ahmed caught for a brisk 19. In between, Nayan Doshi collected 3 for 58 with his left-arm spin, including the wicket of Laxmi Ratan Shukla who hit 35 off 12 balls.
This was Bengal's third defeat in six matches.
Brief Scores: Saurashtra 209 and 333 for 8 beat Bengal 112 and 160 in 55.4 overs (Rohan Banerjee 47; Ravindra Jadeja 4/50) by 270 runs
In Ahmedabad, left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhurv snared 8 for 31 in 25.2 overs as Gujarat routed Rajasthan by eight wickets to notch up their first outright victory of the season. From 29 for 2 after conceding an 18-run lead on Sunday, the defending champions were rolled over for 19.
Dhurv had taken six wickets in the first innings and his stunning haul on day four took his match tally to 14, the first time in his career he had managed a ten-wicket haul. Among the Rajasthan batsmen, only Robin Bist showed some resistance with 31.
The target for Gujarat was 102 and they knocked off the required runs in 25.2 overs. Rajasthan have five points from five matches and are at the bottom of the Group A points table.
Brief score: Gujarat 312 and 105 for 2 in 25.2 overs (Smit Patel 47) beat Rajasthan 294 and 119 in 62.2 overs (Rakesh Dhurv 8/31) by eight wickets
An incredible see-saw final day at the Wankhede Stadium saw Punjab finish with three points over Mumbai, but not before 19 wickets fell in 171.4 overs – nine of which came to Ankeet Chavan as Punjab crashed for 59 in their second innings. From an overnight 364 for 3, with skipper Rohit Sharma batting on 163, it appeared Mumbai were set to at least draw level with Punjab’s 580. However, Manpreet Gony sparked a sensational collapse of four wickets for one run as Mumbai disintegrated after Rohit reached his fourth career double-century.
Rohit was run out for 203 at 427 for 5, and then Gony removed Dhawal Kulkarni, Chavan and Ajit Agarkar for ducks as Mumbai slipped to 428 for 8. A last-wicket stand of 54 between Abhishek Nayar (51) and Balwinder Sandhu (16*) got the score to 486, which gave Punjab a first-innings lead of 154. What transpired next bordered on the unbelievable.
Chavan, a left-arm spinner with 26 wickets at an average of 45 in ten prior matches, with a best of 5 for 117, spun out nine wickets to bowl out table toppers Punjab out for 59 in 23.5 overs. Given the new ball alongside Sandhu, delivered five blows as the visitors slumped to 25 for 6. He took five wickets in his first four overs and ran through the lower order in four overs to finish with exemplary figures of 11.5-2-23-9, the third best figures by any bowler in the Ranji Trophy after Premangsu Chatterjee's 10 for 20 in 1957 and P Sunderam's 10 for 78 in 1985.
Set a target of 156 in 11 overs, Mumbai's makeshift opening pair of Nayar and Sharma waded into Punjab's attack, reaching 42 for 0 in three oves. Rohit (28 off 11 balls) fell in the fourth over, after which Aditya Tare came and went for 5. Nayar remain not out on 27 off 18 balls when the match ended with Mumbai 61 for 2 in six overs. Mumbai, having conceded the three points via that dramatic collapse, came close to taking six but had to settle for one.
Brief scores: Punjab 580 (Mandeep 211, Amitoze 91, Ravi Inder 76) and 59 (Chavan 9/23) drew with Mumbai 485 (Rohit 203, Pawar 78, Nayar 51*, Gony 5/87) and 61 for 2 in six overs
In Bhubaneshwar, hosts Railways managed to hang on for a draw against Madhya Pradesh when it appeared they were staring at defeat, thanks to a defiant century from Mahesh Rawat and 52 from PM Madkaikar. Railways started the final day at 54 for 5 after being forced to follow-on on Sunday, and Rawat and Madkaikar chipped away to erase a deficit of 109 and push the score on to 251 for 8 when the match ended.
Vairamudi Cheluvaraj fell seven runs into his innings on day four to leave Railways reeling at 60 for 6, but Rawat and Madkaikar dug deep with a 141-run partnership. As the pair battled, MP's hopes of six or seven points faded and Railways averted an innings defeat. Rawat's 200-ball 106 was his sixth first-class century while Madkaikar's 52 off 169 balls was his second fifty in five matches.
From favorites for an outright win, MP had to settle for three points and now sit at fourth place with 14, one behind Saurashtra and Gujarat.
Brief scores: Railways 214 and 251 for 8 in 113 overs (Rawat 106, Madkaikar 52) drew with Madhya Pradesh 377