Mohali: At the PCA Stadium on Saturday, Punjab openers Karan Goel and Jiwanjot Singh hit centuries in an unbeaten 243-run stand that is now 58 short of the Punjab record, 301 by Vikram Rathour and Navjot Singh Sidhu. More importantly, the home team is 16 runs shy of taking the first-innings lead.
In the morning, Hyderabad’s last three wickets went down in a hurry as they were shot out for 258 with Manpreet Gony finishing with 4 for 60. Leading the side, Harbhajan Singh bowled 21 wicketless overs.
The Punjab openers were cautious in batting 109 minutes for 45 runs before lunch but after the interval began taking runs off Hyderabad’s flagging attack. Jiwanjot, on first-class debut, reached three figures first with the help of 18 fours and was not out on 116 off 267 balls at the close. Goel was unbeaten on 106 off 229. It was a massive statement of intent from the pair against an attack missing Pragyan Ojha and
Punjab 243 for 0 in 81 overs (Jiwanjot Singh 116*, Karan Goel 106*) trail Hyderabad 258 in 96.3 overs (Ibrahim Khaleel 41; Manpreet Gony 4/60) by 16 runs
In the big-ticket match of Group A, allrounder Abhishek Nayar became the third centurion in Mumbai’s massive 570 on day two at the Wankhede Stadium against Railways, who by stumps had been reduced to 86 for 2 to keep the home team in control.
Ajinkya Rahane, overnight on 105, was lbw for 129 off 255 balls in 394 minutes to Krishnakant Upadhyaya (383 for 5) but Nayar, on 14 at the time, dug deep to get the total past 550. With Ajit Agarkar (20) he put on 60 for the sixth wicket and 63 for the eighth with Ramesh Powar (41).Shivakant Shukla’s removal of Dhawal Kulkarni at 532 for 9 left Nayar on 86 with only Zaheer Khan left, but the No. 11 hung around to see Nayar to his ninth first-class century. Nayar got there with a six off Murali Kartik over long-off. Mumbai were finally bowled out for 570 in 151 overs when Zaheer was bowled by Anureet Singh, leaving Nayar unbeaten on 107 from 164 balls. Having conceded 20-2-55-1 on day one, Kartik bled runs at over five an over on Saturday with Nayar his chief tormentor.
Post-tea, Railways were given two lives by Kaustubh Pawar at third slip, both off Kulkarni’s bowling. First Shukla was grassed on 5 and then Amit Paunikar on 4, all inside the first 20 minutes of the final session. Pawar finally held one in the tenth over to give Agarkar the breakthrough with the wicket of Paunikar. The Pawar-Agarkar combo did for Shukla soon after, but Sanjay Bangar (36*) and Nitin Bhille (21*) kept Mumbai at bay until stumps. Bangar’s 47-ball effort included three fours and two sixes, one of which came in a 21-run first over from Ramesh Powar.
Railways 86 for 2 in 28 overs trail Mumbai 570 in 151 overs (Ajinkya Rahene 127, Abhishek Nayar 107*) by 484 runs
At Nagpur’s Holkar Stadium, hosts Madhya Pradesh slumped to 212 for 8 in reply to Gujarat’s 355. MP had began the second day promisingly thanks largely to Anand Rajan’s 7 for 77, the best bowling analysis of the season so far, but their batting lacked bite.
MP were in early trouble at 54 for 3 before Naman Ojha and Udit Birla steadied the innings through a 87-run partnership. But that was too be the only sizeable alliance the home team could make. Birla was removed one short of a half-century and Harpreet Singh followed moments later; a collapse of 5 for 45 undid all the hard work that Ojha (71 in 283 minutes) had done. Amit Singh was the most successful bowler with 3 for 44.
Earlier, Rajan - born in Nagpur and who has played for Deccan Chargers in the IPL - took four of the five wickets that fell for 28 runs in 11 overs. Barring skipper Parthiv Patel’s 162 there was not much from Gujarat’s batsman as the visitors were bowled out for 355 after opening the day on 327 for 5.
Madhya Pradesh 212 for 8 (Naman Ojha 71) trail Gujarat 355 in 101 overs (Manpreet Juneja 59; Anand Rajan 7/77) by 143 runs
At Eden Gardens, Bengal hit back with the ball after being bowled out for 258 before bad light stopped play in the second session and forced an early close. On another bad-light-hit day, the hosts removed the key trio of Vineet Saxena, Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Robin Bist as the defending champions slipped to 63 for 4. Pankaj Singh and Rituraj Singh – both who were absent from the Irani Trophy – had made their presence felt in the first session but Bengal’s pace bowlers found assistance as well and left Rajasthan 195 runs behind.
Bengal had been 169 for 2 at one point but slipped to 205 for 7 as Pankaj and Rituraj made inroads. Anustup Majumdar went first, nicking Pankaj behind the stumps, and then Rituraj got the ball to move around and bowled Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Sourav Sarkar with consecutive deliveries. Pankaj took his fifth when Pratap Singh was bowled for 0, giving him his 15th five-wicket haul in his 62nd match. Wriddhiman Saha revived Bengal under overcast skies with 59 from 79 balls before he was ninth out at 250.
Rajasthan too found the going tough as Bengal’s fast men bowled well in helpful conditions before lunch. Sarkar removed Saxena for 1, and after the interval he got Kanitkar plumb in front for 10. Shukla had to complete Ashok Dinda’s over when he left the field holding his chest and the change worked a charm as Shukla got opener Ankit Lamba caught behind for 24. The Bengal allrounder then produced the big wicket came when last season's leading run-getter Bist was trapped lbw for 11 soon after.
That telling spell from Shukla (4-2-6-2) was followed by bad light sending the players inside at 63 for 4 after 31 overs, which meant an early tea. Ashok Menaria and Rashmi Parida were the not out batsmen left with a mountain to climb on day three.
Rajasthan 63 for 4 in 31 overs trail Bengal 258 in 78.4 overs (Wriddhiman Saha 59; Pankaj Singh 5/50, Rituraj Singh 3/116) by 195 runs