Gopal's career-best 161 puts Karnataka on cusp of semi-final qualification
All-rounder Shreyas Gopal stood tall with a career-best 161 not out as Karnataka piled more misery on Uttarakhand with a massive first innings lead of 490 runs in their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal in Bengaluru on Thursday.
At close on day three, Uttarakhand were 106/3, still 384 runs in arrears with Dikshanshu Negi and Swapnil Singh remaining unbeaten on identical scores of 27 in an unbroken 46-run partnership.
Vidwath Kaverappa (2/22) claimed the Uttarakhand opening duo of Avneesh Sudha (4) and Jiwanjot Singh (24), while debutant M Venkatesh dismissed former Delhi batter Kunal Chandela, who had played in their 2016-17 final against Vidarbha.
Uttarakhand also have wicketkeeper-batter Aditya Tare, the Ranji Trophy-winning former Mumbai skipper in waiting but it seems a lost battle against the eight-time champions Karnataka who are eyeing their first semi-final appearance since 2020.
Resuming on 474/5, Karnataka had their strategy clear as they batted along with no declaration in sight.
Overnight centurion Gopal, who on Wednesday slammed his first Ranji Trophy century since 2017-18, continued from where he left and in the process completed 3000 runs in first-class cricket.
Gopal lost his partner BR Sharath early while Krishnappa Gowtham fell before lunch but the Karnataka all-rounder stayed on course and completed his 150. He along with Krishnappa Gowtham put together 85-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
Swapnil Singh finally gave the breakthrough for Uttarkhand before Abhay Negi returned to clean up the tail en route to his 4/109 with wickets of Vidwath Kaverappa and Vijaykumar Vyshak.
Uttarakhand 116 and 106/3; 41 overs (Dikshanshu Negi 27 batting, Swapnil Singh 27 batting; Vidwath Kaverappa 2/22).
Karnataka 606; 162.5 overs (Shreyas Gopal 161 not out, Mayank Agarwal 83, Ravikumar Samarth 82, Devdutt Padikkal 69, Nikin Jose 62; Abhay Negi 4/109, Mayank Mishra 3/117, Swapnil Singh 2/118).
Uttarakhand trail by 384 runs.
Punjab take 128-run first innings lead against Saurashtra
Captain Mandeep Singh struck a patient 91 to hand Punjab a crucial first innings lead of 128 runs on the third day of their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match against Saurashtra in Rajkot.
Mandeep added 52 runs to his overnight 39 as Punjab folded at 431 off 124.3 overs, in reply to Saurashtra's 303 all out in their first innings. His 91 came from 206 balls from which he hit nine fours and one six.
Anmol Malhotra, who resumed the day along with Mandeep, made 41 from 77 balls as Punjab added 104 runs from 33.4 overs on Thursday.
Dharmendrasinh Jadeja returned with innings figures 5/109 in 41.3 overs as he added three more wickets on Thursday to the two he had on Wednesday.
Saurashtra were 138 for 4 in 54 overs in their second innings at stumps on the third day for an overall lead of 10 runs.
Captain Arpit Vasavada and Chirag Jani were batting on 44 and 35 respectively after left-arm spinner Vinay Choudhary produced a fine spell of 3 for 61 from 23 overs to remove three of the four top order batters -- Harvik Desai (0), Vishvaraj Jadeja (4) and Sheldon Jackson (21).
Veteran Siddarth Kaul got the other wicket, that of Saurashtra opener Snell Patel (33).
Vasavada has so far faced 100 deliveries during his unconquered innings and his batting will be crucial for Saurashtra in the outcome of the match with two days remaining.
He and Jani (103 balls, 3x4) has already stitched 78 runs for the unconquered fifth wicket.
Saurashtra: 303 and 138 for 4 in 54 overs (Arpit Vasavada 44 batting, Chirag Jani 35 batting; Vinay Choudhary 3/61).
Punjab 1st innings: 431 all out in 124.3 overs (Prabhsimran Singh 126, Naman Dhir 131, Mandeep Singh 91; Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 5/109, Parth Bhut 3/114).
Bengal in driver's seat vs Jharkhand, aims third semifinal appearance on trot
Bengal are on course to their third successive Ranji Trophy semifinal appearance after Shahbaz Ahmed produced yet another sparkling all-round show to put them in the driver's seat on the third day of their quarterfinal match against Jharkhand in Kolkata on Thursday.
Batting at No. 6, left-hander Ahmed top-scored with a gritty 81 off 120 balls (9x4, 2x6) as Bengal posted 328 in their first innings to secure a healthy first innings lead of 155 runs.
At stumps on Day 3, Jharkhand were ahead by just seven runs, with their second innings in disarray at 162 for 7. A total of 11 wickets tumbled on day three.
The lower order Jharkhand batters are now left battling to delay the inevitable with two more days left in the game.
Ahmed, the left-arm spin bowling all-rounder, also made an impact with the ball, dismissing Anukul Roy (40) and Jharkhand skipper Virat Singh (29) in their second innings.
Opener Aryaman Sen waged a lone battle for Jharkhand with a fighting half century (64 off 132 balls) but Ishan Porel brilliantly set him up with a bouncer and dismissed him at the fag-end of the day.
It was a total batting failure for Jharkhand as only three batters managed double digit figures with Aryaman stitching two fifty-plus stands with Anukul Roy and then with Singh.
The match could have been over on day three itself had it not been for Bengal's sloppy catching as they dropped three sitters, including two by skipper Tiwary, all off the bowling of Ahmed who finished the day with bowling figures of 12-2-38-2.
Shahbaz Nadeem was unbeaten on 4 off 13 deliveries, smashing Porel through cover boundary that handed Jharkhand a small overall lead. Giving him company at stumps was Supriyo Chakraborty on five off 19 balls.
It also meant that Jharkhand avoided an innings defeat but they were left to fight two more days with Rahul Shukla and Ashish Kumar next in line to bat.
Earlier, resuming the day on 238 for 5, Bengal lost their keeper-batter Abishek Porel (33) with just eight runs added to his overnight total.
The left-hander, who was looking fluent, suddenly lost his concentration and was caught behind after going for a loose shot.
The other overnight batter Shahbaz, however, did not put a foot wrong and played an attacking innings en route to his 10th fifty.
Bengal would have liked to swell their lead a bit more but Akash Deep failed to produce his lower order fireworks and was run-out after being involved in a mix-up with Ahmed.
"Our bowlers fought well. But we need to stick to our plans and get them out early and chase it down. Anything is possible in cricket, so we have to be at the top of our game tomorrow," Bengal coach Laxmi Ratan Shukla said.
A repeat of last season's semifinal between Bengal and Madhya Pradesh could be on the cards if the latter beat Andhra in Indore.
Bengal have earlier reached semifinals thrice from five seasons. They reached the final in 2019-20 where they lost to Saurashtra. The 2020-21 Ranji season was abandoned due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Jharkhand: 173 and 162 for 7 in 48 overs (Aryaman Sen 64, Anukul Roy 40; Akash Deep 2/25, Akash Ghatak 2/19, Shahbaz Ahmed 2/38).
Bengal: 328 in 108 overs (Shahbaz Ahmed 81, Abhimanyu Easwaran 77, Sudip Gharami 68, Abishek Porel 33; Ashish Kumar 3/89, Rahul Shukla 2/65, Supriyo Chakraborty 2/87). Jharkhand lead by seven runs.
Bowlers put MP back in contention as Andhra skipper Hanuma hits three fours batting one-handed
Defending champions Madhya Pradesh bounced back in contention on the third day of their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Andhra on Thursday, even as injured visiting skipper Hanuma Vihari batted one handed for the second time in succession.
Set a winning target of 245, MP ended day three at 58 for no loss after bundling out their opponents for 93 in their second innings, courtesy Avesh Khan's four wicket haul.
Vihari, like in the first innings when he returned to bat left-handed, braving a wrist injury, batted left-handed to score 15 coming in at No.11.
He swatted three fours, including an insane reverse sweep but could not do much as the team collapsed to 93 all out in 32.3 overs.
"Do it for the team. Do it for the bunch. Never give up!! Thank you everyone for your wishes. Means a lot!," Vihari had tweeted on the second day.
Earlier, resuming at the overnight score of 144 for 4, MP were bowled out for 228 with left-arm medium-pacer Prithvi Raj Yarra picking up five wickets.
Prithvi Raj added the scalps of Harsh Gawli (1), Saransh Jain (8), Avesh Khan (15) and Kumar Kartikeya (24, 4 fours) to finish with superb figures of 5 for 26.
The home team looked in danger of being dismissed below 200 before Kartikeya and Avesh stitched a 48-run stand for the ninth wicket to stretch the score to 228.
With a big lead of 151, Andhra was expected to bat well in the second innings to put MP out of contention. However, the MP bowlers ran through the visiting team's batting unit in just 32.3 overs.
Avesh, bowling with a lot of fire and a big heart, set the tone by removing opener C R Gnaneshwar (1) in the second over, having him caught by Yash Dubey.
Fellow opening batter Abhishek Reddy (1) fell in the fourth over, trapped LBW.
A 37-run stand for the third wicket between Nitish Kumar Reddy (14) and Ashwin Hebbar (35, 65 balls, 4x4s, 1x6) followed.
Once Gaurav Yadav (3/10) removed Nitish and Kumar Kartikeya (2/41) got the key wicket of Ricky Bhui (1), the centurion in the first innings, things went downhill for Andhra.
The MP bowlers kept picking up wickets at regular intervals and the Andhra innings ended at 93.
Set a target of 245, the home team was 58 for no loss in 16 overs, requiring 187 more to advance to the semifinals.
Opening batters Yash Dubey (24 batting) and Himanshu Mantri (31 batting) got off to a solid start as MP looked to cap a splendid comeback, engineered by Avesh & Co.
Andhra 379 all out in 127.1 overs (Ricky Bhui 149, Karan Shinde 110; Anubhav Agarwal 4/72) and 93 all out in 32.3 overs (Ashwin Hebbar 35; Avesh Khan 4/24, Gaurav Yadav 3/10) vs Madhya Pradesh 228 all out in 69.1 overs (Shubham Sharma 51, Aditya Srivastava 31; Y Prithvi Raj 5/26, K V Sasikanth 3/49) and 58 for no loss in 16 overs.