A summary of all the action from the Ranji Trophy matches played on Wednesday.
Shahbaz Ahmed produced an impressive all-round show against Himachal Pradesh as Bengal remained on the verge of a second consecutive win in Ranji Trophy Group A in Kolkata, on Wednesday.
The left-arm spinner grabbed 5/32 en route to his fourth five-wicket haul, while the pace duo of Ishan Porel (2/26) and Akash Deep (2/50) bagged two each as Bengal bundled out Himachal Pradesh for 130 in 46.5 overs to gain a sizeable first-innings lead of 180 runs.
Bengal, in their second innings, were 89 for 1 at stumps on the second day with Koushik Ghosh (21 batting) and Sudip Kumar Gharami (32 batting) at the crease with an overall lead of 269 runs.
Resuming the day on 310 for 9, Bengal failed to add to their overnight total as Vaibhav Arora (2/40) trapped Anustup Majumdar (159) in the second ball of the day.
Majumdar was the backbone of Bengal's innings in his 207-ball knock, studded with 21 fours and two sixes.
In reply, Himachal suffered a body blow at the start of their innings as Shahbaz dismissed opener Raghav Dhawan (5) in his first over, in what was a captaincy masterstroke from veteran Manoj Tiwary. Tiwary was standing in place of Abhimanyu Easwaran who is on national duty in the Test series against Bangladesh.
Opener Prashant Chopra (71 not out) kept his cool and played sensibly to add some crucial runs on the board.
But the other Himachal batters threw their wickets away as they lost half their side for 38 runs when Akash Deep cleaned up skipper Rishi Dhawan (1).
The only other batter to get to a double-digit score was No. 8 Mayank Dagar (18). Dagar added some much-needed runs for the visitors before being dismissed by Porel to have Himachal reeling at 99 for 7.
Shahbaz then dismissed Vaibabh Arora (2) and Kanwar Abhinany (1) for the addition of just eight runs en route to his first five-for at the Eden.
"I am thankful to Manoj (Tiwary) bhai for giving me the opportunity to bowl early on and I am happy to deliver for my team with both bat and ball," Shahbaz, who also had made a valuable 49 off 97 balls in Bengal first innings, said.
"We will look to add as many runs as possible tomorrow and take the game away from them. Earlier I have picked two wickets here at Eden but bagging five is special."
At Kolkata: Bengal 310 in 78.2 overs (Anustup Majumdar 159, Shahbaz Ahmed 49; Sidharth Sharma 5/69) and 89/1 in 19 overs vs Himachal Pradesh 130 in 46.5 overs (Prashant Chopra 71 not out; Ahmed 5/32, Ishan Porel 2/26, Akash Deep 2/50). Bengal lead by 269 runs.
At Sovima: Uttar Pradesh 551/4 declared in 117 overs (Dhruv Jurel 249, Rinku Singh 127 not out, Madhav Kaushik 107) vs Nagaland 136 in 42.4 overs (Imliwati Lemtur 36; Shivam Sharma 7/59) and following on 44/6 in 14 overs (Karan Sharma 2/10, Kartikeya Jaiswal 2/10, Shivam Mavi 2/14). Nagaland trail by 371 runs.
At Dehradun: Odisha 213 vs Uttarakhand 308/3 in 94 overs (Jiwanjot Singh 174 batting, Swapnil Singh 60 batting). Uttarakhand lead by 95 runs.
At Vadodara: Baroda 615 in 158 overs (Jyotsnil Singh 195, Priyanshu Moliya 144 not out, Pratyush Kumar 110, Vishnu Solanki 64; Sanjay Pahal 3/80) vs Haryana 70/1 in 22 overs. Haryana trail by 545 runs.
Shorey shores up Delhi with a double century
Dhruv Shorey struck a brilliant unbeaten double century as he guided Delhi to 439 all out on day two of their Ranji Trophy Group B match against Assam in Guwahati, on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old opener continued from where he had left off on Tuesday, compiling his runs quickly till he finally ran out of partners at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium.
At the close of play, Assam were 158 for four and trailing Delhi by 281 runs.
Shorey, who was unbeaten on 139 on Tuesday, finally ended up making 252 not out, with his innings studded with 34 boundaries and two sixes.
The Delhi cricketer didn't sacrifice the run rate as he approached the double-century mark, scoring his runs off 315 deliveries at a healthy strike rate of 80.
This was Shorey's highest first-class score in 45 matches, with his previous best being 145. The double-century will do more good to his already healthy batting average of 48.49.
Starting day two on 271 for seven, Shorey first lost overnight partner Vikas Mishra, who added just 11 runs to his score before being dismissed by Assam's left-arm pace bowler Mrinmoy Dutta for 22 runs.
Sensing he would ultimately run out of partners, Shorey took the majority of the strike, scoring runs at a brisk pace as Delhi crossed the 400-run mark, thanks to the veteran batter's 91-run partnership with last man Harshit Rana (24).
Assam started their innings on a dismal note, losing skipper Kunal Saikia for 12 while Rahul Hazarika was retired hurt on four. Soon Riyan Parag was dismissed for 10, while Sibsankar Roy too departed for a duck, leaving the hosts tottering on 60 for four.
Rishav Das (71 batting) was then involved in the rescue act with Gokul Sharma (39 batting) and the duo ensured Assam closed the day on 158 for four in 44 overs.
At Guwahati: Delhi 439 all out in 110.1 overs (Dhruv Shorey 252 not out, Vaibhav Rawal 43; Mrinmoy Dutta 3/79, Sidharth Sarmah 3/53) vs Assam 158 for 4 in 44 overs (Rishav Das 71 batting, Gokul Sharma 39 batting; Prasun Vijayran 3/31). Assam trail by 281 runs.
At Coimbatore: Andhra 297 all out in 100.1 overs (Abhishek Reddy 85, Ricky Bhui 68, Karan Shinde 55; Sandeep Warrier 3/64, R Sai Kishore 3/73) vs Tamil Nadu 273 for 4 in 77 overs (Sai Sudharsan 113, Baba Aparajith 88). Tamil Nadu trail by 24 runs.
At Mumbai: Mumbai 651 for 6 decl in 127.2 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal 162, Suryakumar Yadav 90, Ajinkya Rahane 204, Sarfaraz Khan 126 not out; Katikeya Kak 3/106) vs Hyderabad 173 for 6 in 50 overs (Tanmay Agarwal 40, Rohit Rayudu 72 batting; Shams Mulani 5/76). Hyderabad trail by 478 runs.
At Rajkot: Maharashtra 472 for 7 in 173 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 65, Naushad Shaikh 101, Ankit Bawne 96, Saurabh Nawale 72, Ashay Palkar 51 batting) vs Saurashtra.
Karnataka on course to give Pondicherry a drubbing
Opener Ravikumar Samarth struck a century as Karnataka posted 304 all out in their first innings and then reduced Puducherry to 58 for three on the second day of their Ranji Trophy group C match in Bengaluru, on Wednesday. Resuming at 111 for 1, Samarth continued to anchor the Karnataka innings as he cracked a 242-ball 137 laced with 17 hits to the fence.
The opener added 63 with Nikin Jose (30) and 55 with Manish Pandey (45) before being dismissed by Paras Dogra in the 82nd over.
Left-arm spinner Ankit Sharma also had a good day in the office as he snapped five wickets on day 2 to go with the one he had taken on the opening day. But the hosts still managed to grab a crucial 134-run first innings lead.
Karnataka bowlers, who had bundled out Puducherry for 170 in their first innings, then got into the act, leaving their rivals tottering at 58 for 3 at the end of the day.
At stumps, opener Jay Pande (25 batting) and Sridhar Ashwath (3 batting) were in the middle with Puducherry still 76 runs behind.
Ronit More (1/9) and Vijaykumar Vyshak (1/13), who had shared five wickets in the first innings, were again among the wickets, while Krishnappa Gowtham (1/21) also accounted for one.
At Bengaluru: Karnataka 304 all out in 93.2 overs (Ravikumar Samarth 137; Ankit Sharma 6/60) vs Puducherry 170 and 58 for 3 (Jay Pande 25; Ronit More 1/9).
At Jamshedpur: Jharkhand 386 all out in 128.1 overs (Kushagra 96; Darshan Misal 4/68, Mohit Redkar 3/125) vs Goa 99 for 4 in 48 overs (Amogh Sunil Desai 41; Utkarsh Singh 3/12).
At Jaipur: Rajasthan 337 all out in 97.1 overs (Deepak Hooda 133; Jalaj Saxena 3/78) vs Kerala 268 for 8 in 73 overs (Sachin Baby 109; Aniket Choudhary 3/73, Manav Suthar 3/75).
At Delhi: Services 213 all out in 60.1 overs vs Chhattisgarh 280 for 5 in 86.5 overs (Ajay Jadav Mandal 101; Diwesh Pathania 2/51).
Chandigarh humbled by an innings and 125 runs
Left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya grabbed his maiden 10-wicket match haul in first-class cricket as reigning champions Madhya Pradesh thrashed Chandigarh by an innings and 125 runs on a day 23 wickets tumbled in their Ranji Trophy Group D game in Indore, on Wednesday.
Continuing his good show from last season where he finished second highest wicket-taker (32) behind Shams Mulani, Kartikeya returned with match figures of 10/64 to help MP bowl out Chandigarh twice on day two, 57 and 127.
With two bonus point victories on the trot, MP now lead group D with 14 points. In their Ranji opener, MP had defeated Jammu and Kashmir by an innings and 17 runs.
Resuming the day on 289/7, MP added 20 runs in 7.2 overs to their overnight total before being bowled out for 309.
For Chandigarh, Sandeep Sharma was the pick of the bowlers (7/93), while Hartejassvi Kapoor had figures of 2/64.
But what followed was a harakiri of sorts by the Chandigarh batters who could not even last a session to be bowled out in 24 overs.
Opener Arslan Khan was their top-scorer with his 58-ball 34 in an otherwise insipid collapse by the Chandigarh batters.
Kartikeya led the MP bowling show in his spell of 8-3-20-6.
Following on, Chandigarh were 85/6 at tea with their No. 5 batter Ankit Kaushik (69; 121 balls) providing some resistance.
Saransh Jain then triggered the collapse en route to his 5/37 as Chandigarh lasted 44.3 overs this time. Kartikeya claimed 4/44 in Chandigarh second innings.
At Indore: Madhya Pradesh 309 in 95.2 overs (Rajat Patidar 88, Akshat Raghuwanshi 77; Sandeep Sharma 7/93, Hartejassvi Kapoor 2/64) vs Chandigarh 57 in 24 overs (Arslan Khan 34; Kumar Kartikeya 6/20, Anubhav Agarwal 2/12) and following on 127 in 44.3 overs (Ankit Kaushik 69; Saransh Jain 5/37, Kartikeya 4/44). Madhya Pradesh won by an innings and 125 runs. Points: MP 7, Chandigarh 0.
At Nagpur: Vidarbha 264 vs Tripura 290/7 in 92 overs (Sudip Chatterjee 83, Wriddhiman Saha 66, Bishal Ghosh 48; Yash Thakur 4/39, Aditya Sarwate 2/82). Tripura lead by 26 runs.
At Ahmedabad: Gujarat 307 vs Jammu and Kashmir 135 in 43.5 overs (Fazil Rashid 51 not out; Siddharth Desai 6/38, Hardik Patel 2/34) and following on 85/3 in 29 overs (Henan Nazi 33 batting; Desai 3/23). Jammu and Kashmir trail by 89 runs.
Railways to play Punjab in two-day game on a new pitch
The Ranji Trophy match between Railways and Punjab at the Karnail Singh Stadium was on Wednesday suspended after the track was deemed "dangerous and unfit for play" by the match officials, who decided to have a two-day game on a new surface beginning Thursday.
As many as 24 wickets fell in just 103 overs with fast bowlers accounting for 20 of them when play was stopped by the match officials. Punjab was at 18 for 4 in their second essay after taking a 12-run first innings lead.
"I have never seen a wicket like that in Ranji before. The bounce was too unpredictable making the pitch very unsafe. What we have been told that the game will be played on a fresh pitch," Punjab batter Abhishek Sharma told PTI.
"The umpires and match referee took the right call to abandon today's play and start afresh tomorrow. Players put a lot of effort into preparation for this game so disappointed to see a wicket like that."
The decision was taken during the drinks break in the second session when on-field umpires K Madanagopal and Rajeev Godara discussed the matter with match referee Youraj Singh and also had a word with both captains, Mandeep Singh of Punjab and Karn Sharma of Railways.
With the Elite Group D game reduced to a two-day affair, a result is highly unlikely, which might affect both Railways and Punjab's chances in the tournament. Punjab's first match had ended in a draw after bad light brought an early end to their contest against Chandigarh, while the Railways had lost to Vidarbha by 194-run.
In the past too, tracks of the Karnail Singh Stadium had been in news for the wrong reasons with BCCI's technical committee putting the venue on a watchlist for producing poor pitches in 2011.
A year later, the venue was banned for two years from hosting games after the committee discovered that local curators had deliberately under-prepared the wicket to help Railways, forcing the team to shift their home base to Bhubaneswar.