An interesting battle for the first innings lead is on cards as hosts Mumbai trail visitors Assam by 201 runs with seven wickets in hand on the penultimate day of the Group-A Ranji Trophy Elite division match in Mumbai, on Friday.
Resuming at their overnight score of 81 for three, Assam were bowled out for 298. In reply, Mumbai scored 91 runs for the loss of three wickets in the remaining 31 overs with Sahil Kukreja (38) and Abhishek Nayar (18) at the crease when stumps were drawn for the day.
With Rohit Sharma not playing in the match, and the in-form Omkar Gurav (2), Ajinkya Rahane (22) and Wasim Jaffer (4) back in the pavilion, much will depend on Kukreja and Nayar if Mumbai are to get three points on Saturday.
Earlier, Assam began well with the overnight batsmen Dheeraj Jadhav and Tarjinder Singh adding 117 runs more before left-arm-spinner disturbed the timber of Singh.
Singh faced 156 deliveries and hit nine boundaries in his knock of 74.
However, after his dismissal, no batsman with the exception of Abu Nechim Ahmed, who scored a quickfire 39 of 46 balls with the help of five fours and one six, could occupy the crease for long and the visitors lost their last seven wickets for the addition of 100 runs.
Jadhav, who was the eighth batsman out, top-scored for Assam with a patient 79 off 269 balls with the help of eight boundaries.
For Mumbai, off-spinner Ramesh Powar claimed three wickets conceding 92 runs, while Abhishek Nayar (2-26), Abdullah (2-48), Dhawal Kulkarni (2-48) and Ajit Agarkar (1-57) shared the rest.
Assam pacer Dhiraj Goswami (2-28) shattered Mumbai's hopes of a good beginning as he first bowled Gaurav and then castled Rahane, just when he was beginning to prosper.
Speedster Ranjitkumar Mali trapped Jaffer in front to have the hosts reeling at 47 for three, before Kukreja and Nayar staged the rescue act.
Baroda smell victory against Punjab
Left-arm slow bowler Bhargav Bhatt shone with the ball as Baroda produced a solid bowling display to bowl out Punjab for 243 in their first innings and enforce a follow on, on the third day of their Ranji Trophy Super League Group B match in Vadodara.
Bhargav added three more wickets to his overnight scalp in the first innings, before taking two more later in the day to leave Punjab tottering at 79 for four in their second innings at stumps.
For Punjab, opener Sarul Kanwar stood amid the ruins, scoring a brilliant century to help his team reach 243 in their first innings. Kanwar slammed a 192-ball 130 containing 14 boundaries and five sixes.
At stumps, V Bhalla was giving Kanwar (42) company in their second innings, still trailing by 94 runs with six wickets remaining.
Pacer Manpreet Singh Gony was the second highest scorer with 35 in the first innings.
Earlier, Bhargav spun a web with his slow bowl to scalp three Punjab batsman -- Mandeep Singh (9), Pankaj Dharmani (12), Jaskaran Singh (18). R Inder Singh was also dismissed by Bhargav on Thursday.
Being forced to follow on, Punjab yet again depended on Kanwar who hit an unbeaten 42 off 46 balls with the help of eight boundaries.
Bhargav and MY Vahora took two wickets each to take Baroda close to a deserving win with one more day to go in the four-day match at the Moti bagh stadium.
Karnataka tighten noose around Orissa
Centuries from Manish Pandey and CM Gautam helped Karnataka piled on a huge 503 all out against a weakened Orissa attack in their first innings on the penultimate day of their Ranji Trophy Super League Group B match in Bangalore.
In reply, Orissa were 92 for one in their second essay, still needing 220 runs to avoid an innings defeat with a day's play left at the M Chinnaswamy stadium. Opener Natraj Behera (50 not out) and Niranjan Behera (37) were at the crease when stumps were drawn for the day. Orissa had made 191 runs in their first innings.
It would be a tough task at hand for the visitors to avert the innings defeat when they go in for the final day's play on Saturday.
Resuming the third day at 348 for five, overnight batsmen Pandey (171) and Gautam (158) added another 34 runs for the sixth-wicket partnership before the former was caught by SD Sahoo off Basanth Mohanty with the scoreline reading 386 for six.
Pandey hit 16 fours and six sixes in his 267 balls stay at the crease.
Both had come together when Karnataka were reduced to 54 for five by the visitors on the second day. Pandey and Gautam stitched together a 328-run stand for the sixth wicket to save the blushes for the hosts.
After Pandey's departure, Gautam also did not last long as was caught by SD Sahoo off Alok Chandra Sahoo.
Gautam struck 23 fours and one six in his 234 balls stay at the crease.
Sunil Joshi (0) and Adithya Sagar (12) also went in quick succession. Pacer Abhimanyu Mithun than did the talking with the bat and scored a quickfire 63 not out off 80 balls to take the hosts total past the 500-run mark.
He struck seven fours and one six. Sreenath Aravind (33) also supported him well with two fours and a six before being bowled by BB Samantray.
For Orissa, Alok Chandra Sahoo took four wickets for 110 runs while Basanth Mohanty chipped in with three wickets conceding 84 runs.
Trailing by 312 runs, Orissa were dealt a heavy blow by Karnataka pacer Adithya Sagar, who disturbed the timber of skipper Shiv Sundar Das (0) in his opening over.
Opener Behera and Niranjan than steadied the ship for Orissa, taking the score to 92 for one at close.
Bowlers lift Bengal
Laxmi Shukla and Sourav Sarkar shared five wickets between them as Bengal bowled out Gujarat for 273 in the first innings, before reaching 99 for two by stumps on the third day of their Ranji Trophy Super League Group A match.
Shukla took three wickets giving away 40 runs, while Sarkar accounted for two wickets and AP Majumdar bagged one. Ranadeb Bose also added one more to his overnight three wickets.
Dibyendu Chakrabarty (17) and Manoj Tiwary (18) were at the crease at the draw of stumps at the Sardar Patel Stadium, in Motera.
Resuming at 162/3, Parthiv Patel (31) could add just eight runs to his overnight score of 23 before being trapped by Robin Bose in the 55th over.
BD Thaker (21) also perished soon. He was found plumb in front of wicket by Shukla.
PR Parmar then tried to stem the rot with a well-made 59 but he ran out of wickets as Gujarat were bowled out for 273 in 98 overs.
In reply, Bengal openers Arindam Das and SP Goswami forged a 49-run partnership before S K trivedi cleaned up the former's stumps.
Goswami was also caught behind by Patel off R P Dahiya as Bengal slipped to 74 for two in 31.4 overs.
Bengal still needs 174 runs with 8 wickets in hand to stop Gujarat from taking a first innings lead, with just one day to go.
Mishra leads Delhi fightback
Delhi spinner Vikas Mishra took four wickets after Saurashtra openers put on a tremendous partnership as the rain-hit Ranji Trophy Super League match is heading for a draw.
Hosts Saurashtra were 231 for six at stumps on day three after Delhi skipper won the toss and opted to field at Khandheri Cricket Stadium in Rajkot.
Jaydev Shah (43) and Kamlesh Makwana (6) were at the crease when stumps were drawn for the day.
The first two days of the contest were lost due to rain and poor playing conditions.
Chirag Pathak (58) and Bhushan Chauhan (58) shared a 104-run stand to give Saurashtra a tremendous start but the hosts lost the plot after the openers made their way back to the pavilion.
Pathak's knock came in 95 balls while Chauhan's was a quite slow innings as he took 151 balls for his 58 runs.
Mishra drew the first blood by scalping Pathak and then accounted before prolific Cheteshwar Pujara (10), Sagar Jogiyani (6) and Pratik Mehta (0).
The host side failed to build on the good start given to them by Pathak and Chauhan and kept losing the wickets at regular intervals.
Himachal-UP tie heading for a draw
Himachal Pradesh were 23 for two in their first innings against Uttar Pradesh in the nine overs possible on the rain-hit penultimate day of the Ranji Trophy Super League Group B match in Lucknow.
At stumps, opener Sangram Singh (17) and VA Indulkar (4) were at the crease when bad light forced the umpires to stop the play at the Green Park stadium.
Not a single ball could be bowled in the tie due to heavy rain on Thursday.
With the unseasonal weather playing spoilsport, the match is heading for a tame draw with just a day's play left.
The visitors still trail Uttar Pradesh by 174 runs with 8 wickets remaining in the first innings. Uttar Pradesh had made 197 all out in their first innings on the opening day.
Tamil Nadu-Railways tie set for draw
Railways were 40 without loss at close in reply to Tamil Nadu's first innings total of 335 for 4 declared on the penultimate day of their rain-hit Ranji Trophy Super League Group A match.
With the weather playing spoilsport, play could commence at 1.40 pm and only 53 overs were bowled when umpires stopped the play due to bad light.
Earlier, in-form Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund, who hit a double century in their match against Saurashtra last week, made a superb 131 (262b, 16 x 4) and Subramaniam Badrinath scored back to back centuries in his top scoring effort of 149 (315b, 16 x 4).
The two put on a 255-run third-wicket partnership in 84.2 overs to consolidate the hosts' innings. Railways medium pacer J P Yadav claimed two wickets conceding 65 runs.
At close, Railways openers Faiz Fazal (20) and V Cheluvaraj (17) were at the crease.