Tail-ender Javed Khan, batting with a finger injury, saved Mumbai from following-on while chasing Railways' first innings score of 242 in the rain-truncated Ranji Trophy match, in Delhi, on Wednesday.
After the defeat to Jammu and Kashmir, losing to Railways would have been one hell of an embarrassment for Mumbai cricket, known for its quality and fighting spirit.
They were reeling at 70 for nine after Ranjit Mali's (3/27) inspired three-wicket burst and a disciplined spell from seamer Anureet Singh (4/35), but Javed threw his bat around to score 27, as Mumbai reached the magic figure of 93 to avoid the follow-on.
The 40-time champions were all out for 101 in 43 overs and just about managed to get a point from the match.
This was after more than 170 overs of match time was lost during the first two days.
The Gen-Next of Mumbai cricket neither had the technique nor patience to grind it out on a wicket that helped seam bowling. There were six batsmen who were out leg-before wicket, and from 52 for three at one stage they lost six wickets for only 18 runs in the next 11.1 overs.
Hiken Shah (26) and captain Suryakumar (22) added 31 runs for the fourth wicket before Mali, coming in as a change bowler trapped left-hander Shah plumb in-front.
Three overs later, Anureet got one to come back in and find Suryakumar's pads. Abhishek Nayar (2) scratched around for 31 balls before Mali sent him back.
The others simply didn't have it in them to fight it out till Javed, whose finger nail got clipped while trying to take a catch got them a point.
No wonder coach Praveen Amre was seen talking to the players in an animated manner.
"I just told them where we are exactly at the moment and how everyone needs to take more responsibility. There is no one individual who is responsible, but it's a collective thing," Amre told reporters.
Asked if all-rounder Abhishek Nayar, who has little to show from the last couple of seasons is living on borrowed time, Amre said,"He is a senior player and he should be given some more chances."
Railways captain Mahesh Rawat said that 242 on a Karnail Singh track as lively as this was a good score.
"We thought 242 on this track was a good score. We haven't had such good bounce and carry at Karnail for a long time. Credit to Ranjit, who got big wickets (Nayar and Shah) and that proved to be the turning point. He was getting good movement off the pitch," Rawat said.
Railways: 242 & 136/4 (Abhishek Kaushik 41, Arindam Ghosh 38)
Mumbai: 101 in 43 overs (Anureet Singh 4/35, Ranjit Mali 3/27, Krishnakant Upadhyay 2/37).
Points: Railways 3, Mumbai 1.
Vinay Kumar bowls Karnataka to big win over Bengal
Pace spearhead R Vinay Kumar exposed Bengal's batting frailties with a match haul of nine wickets to lead Karnataka to a crushing nine-wicket away win in their Group A match at the Eden Gardens, in Kolkata.
Vinay Kumar returned figures of 6-34, his 15th five-for in first class cricket, as Bengal, after following-on, lost six wickets for just 29 runs in a pathetic batting display and were bundled out for 227 in their second essay, leaving Karnataka a paltry target of 71.
Bengal were let down by Manoj Tiwary, who followed his first innings duck with a four from 21 deliveries, and it was the duo of skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla (57 from 65 balls) and Sudeep Chatterjee (59) who avoided the ignominy of an innings defeat.
Flamboyant opener Robin Uthappa's 36-ball 54 (10x4, 1x6) helped the defending champions hunt down the target in 10.2 overs in an extended second session.
This was Karnataka's second outright win on the trot and they lead the group with 12 points after two rounds.
Bengal had a bit of solace by denying Karnataka a bonus point as Uthappa was dismissed by Shib Shankar Paul immediately after the veteran Bengal seamer dropped the opener at fine leg in the previous over.
Karnataka leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal was adjudged man-of-the-match for his match-turning 145 in a 148-run tenth-wicket partnership with Sreenath Aravind that seized the momentum for the visitors, who were reeling 69 for five on the opening day.
"We all are enjoying each other's company; it's a healthy dressing room atmosphere," Uthappa said about their champion-like performance.
Vinay Kumar disagreed that it was meek surrender by the Bengal batsman and credited their bowling for the away win.
Earlier in the morning, Bengal, resuming the day with a 111-run trail, soon lost overnight opener Arindam Das.
Bengal's most reliable batsman Tiwary disappointed yet again; the India probable for the World Cup looked out of sorts and found it difficult to get going against an out an out seam attack of Karnataka.
Tiwary had a tentative stay at the crease and ducked a Vinay Kumar bouncer in the first ball of the 39th over as his cracked helmet had to be replaced.
The Bengal batsman, who is in the 30-member World Cup probables, struggled to middle the ball even against a relatively slow Vinay Kumar who bowled with a short run-up.
Tiwary's poor footwork did him in as he missed the line to a Vinay Kumar delivery that stayed a tad low and was castled for four from 21 balls.
Bengal once again lost wickets in heap in the post-lunch session even as skipper Shukla counter attacked with a 65-ball 57 with 10 fours and one six.
But his innings was cut short by left-arm pacer Sreenath Aravind (2/54) while his experienced skipper showed no mercy from the High Court end and had wickets in two balls to skittle out Bengal for 76.3 overs.
Bengal had a similar collapse in their first innings and lost seven wickets for 79 runs in the post-lunch session on Tuesday.
Skipper Shukla said there were no positives from the match and they can only go up from here.
"We can't go further down from here... We've to go up learning from our mistakes. The team is in desperate need for a strong attitude," Shukla said, urging the team to buck-up.
On the inclusion of out-of-form seamer Paul ahead of Saurav Sarkar, he said: "This was just one match... Paul had played a key role in our passage to semis last season. We can't just drop him like that. Sarkar's turn will definitely come."
Karnataka will take on Railways in an away-match from December 21, while Bengal face Mumbai at home in their next match from December 28.
Karnataka: 408 and 71/1 in 10.2 overs (Robin Uthappa 54)
Bengal: 251 and 227 (following-on) in 76.3 overs (Sudip Chatterjee 59, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 57; R Vinay Kumar 6/34)
Karnataka won by nine wickets.
Points: Karnataka 6, Bengal 0.
Punjab draw with Vidarbha
Punjab walked away with three points from their Group B match against Vidarbha after the slender 37-run first innings lead proved handy for the visitors in the game which ended in a draw in Nagpur.
At the end of the match, Vidarbha were 143 for three in 58 overs while chasing a target of 293 runs.
This was after Punjab were all out for 255 in their second innings on Wednesday morning, with Gitansh Khera notching exactly a 100 off 172 deliveries, laced with 11 fours and a six. The visiting team was 211 for six at the end of the third day.
Vidarbha’s Shrikant Wagh and Swapnil Bandiwar claimed three wickets each.
In reply, the hosts batted with ease before stumps were drawn.
After a steady start given by the top three batsmen -- Faiz Fazal (30), Sanjay Ramaswamy (25) and Ganesh Satish (32), skipper S Badrinath and Shalabh Srivastava comfortably held fort for Vidarbha.
Badrinath was left just one run short of a half century. His 49-run knock came off 82 deliveries and included seven fours.
Punjab: 195 and 255
Vidarbha: 158 and 143/3 in 58 overs (S Badrinath 49 not out, Baltej Singh 1/28).
Mohit, Ashish guide Haryana to 53-run win
Medium pacers Mohit Sharma and Ashish Hooda shared nine wickets between them on the fourth and final day to guide hosts Haryana to a 53-run win over Maharashtra in their Group B match at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium, in Rohtak.
The 26-year-old Mohit, who has represented India in 11 ODIs so far, returned a five-wicket haul, while his teammate Ashish scalped four wickets to prevent Maharashtra from chasing 208 as the Rohit Motwani-led side were bundled for 154.
Following the victory, the Sunny Singh-led Haryana grabbed six points, while Maharashtra drew a blank.
Haryana: 136 & 176.
Maharashtra: 105 & 154 all out in 39.2 (Rahul Tripathi 39; Mohit Sharma 45/5).
Points: Haryana 6, Maharashtra 0.
Gujarat score 8-wkt win over Odisha
Pacer Rush Kalaria starred with another six-wicket haul as Gujarat scored an easy eight-wicket victory over Odisha in their Group B match in Cuttack.
Kalaria (6/45) produced another impressive pace-bowling spell on the fourth and final day, helping Gujarat bundle out the home team for 248 to end with 12 wickets in the match.
He had also taken six wickets in Odisha’s first innings.
Resuming at their overnight score of 143 for 5, Odisha added 105 runs in 34.1 overs, losing five wickets in the process, and were all out for 248.
Set a victory target of 102 runs, Gujarat scored 105 for two in 30 overs, with first innings centurion Bhargav Merai and Rujul Bhatt both not out on 43 and 33 respectively.
Defeat was staring on Odisha as they had conceded a 147-run first innings lead to the visiting team and despite captain Abhilash Mallick's aggressive century (126 from 137 balls), the home side fell short at the end.
Kalaria, who took four wickets on Tuesday, took two more wickets on Day 4 to finish with figures of 6/45 in Odisha’s second innings. He had first innings figures of 6/59.
By virtue of the victory, Gujarat collected six points while Odisha none.
Gujarat: 372 and 105 for 2 in 30 overs (Bhargav Merai 43 not out, Rujul Bhatt 33 not out)
Odisha: 225 and 248 all out in 74.1 overs (Abhilash Mallick 126; Rush Kalaria 6/45) by 8 wickets.
Uttar Pradesh beat Madhya Pradesh by 4 wickets
After their bowlers set up the trap, Uttar Pradesh’s batsmen held their nerve on the fourth and final day's play to beat Madhya Pradesh by four wickets in a Group A match, in Indore.
Chasing 180 for victory at the Holkar stadium, the Piyush Chawla-led side achieved their target in the second session of play.
Resuming the day on 82 for four, UP put up a strong showing after night-watchman and man-of-the-match Amit Mishra, who had picked six wickets in MP's second innings, got out after a valiant 26.
Another overnight batsman, Parvinder Singh (41), who stuck around for a 42-run fifth-wicket partnership with Mishra, was the only other wicket to fall on Wednesday.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Eklavya Dwivedi (16 not out) and Chawla (24 not out) then finished the remaining job with a 35-run unbeaten seventh-partnership.
Sharing the new ball with Puneet Datay, MP medium-pacer Avesh Khan did his bit with a four-wicket haul but could not stop the UP side from bagging six points.
Earlier on Day 3, it were the UP pacers, Praveen Kumar (3-16) and Mishra, who skittled out the Devndra Bundela-led MP for 63 and set up the victory.
Madhya Pradesh: 296 & 63
Uttar Pradesh: 180 & 183/6 in 64 overs (Tanmay Srivastava 36, Parvinder Singh 41; Avesh Khan 4-84).
Points: Uttar Pradesh 6, Madhya Pradesh 0.
Services-Tripura match ends in a draw
Services produced a solid batting display, captain Yashpal Singh and Rajat Paliwal hitting unbeaten centuries, as their match against
Tripura in Delhi ended in a draw.
Resuming at their overnight score of 10 for no loss, Services ended the final day on 368 for two, with Yashpal and Paliwal not out on 101 and 139 respectively in reply to Tripura first innings total of 430 all out, at the Palam A ground.
Paliwal hit 12 boundaries in his 170-ball unbeaten innings while Yashpal consumed 137 deliveries for his 139 not out, which had seven fours and a six.
The duo stitched 178 runs for the unbroken third-wicket stand.
Opener Soumik Chatterjee contributed 77 up the order and shared 138 runs for the second wicket with Paliwal.
Both sides collected a point each as the match ended in a draw without two completed innings. The first day was washed out without a ball being bowled due to rain.
Tripura: 430 in 135 overs
Services: 368 for 2 in 84 overs (Rajat Paliwal 139 not out, Yashpal Singh 101 not out).
Image: Karnataka batsman Robin Uthappa raises his bat after completing his half century during Ranji Trophy match against Bengal at Eden Gardens.