Saurashtra, despite a loss in the final round game to Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh on Friday advanced to the knockout stage of the Ranji Trophy from Group B after the Mumbai-Maharashtra game ended in an exciting draw.
Though Saurashtra, Andhra, and Maharashtra finished equal on 26 points after the seven rounds of the league phase, the first two teams entered the quarterfinals while Maharashtra missed out because it did not gain any bonus points.
Andhra, which had been on 19 points before the final round match against Assam, routed their opponent by an inning to gain a bonus point which helped them pip Maharashtra.
Mumbai, which was in the reckoning but needed to win or secure a first innings lead to grab three points and reach 26 points, managed only 1 after a tie with Maharashtra on the first innings score of 374 in the final round match.
In Chennai, left-arm spinner S Ajith Ram came up with a six-wicket haul to propel Tamil Nadu to a 59-run win over Saurashtra.
Needing 266 for victory, the visiting team was bowled out for 206 in 68.2 overs as Harvik Desai’s marathon knock of 101 (205 balls, 10 fours, 3 sixes) went in vain.
Resuming at the overnight 4 for 1, Saurashtra slumped to 18 for 4 in the 12th over with Ram picking up the scalps of night-watchman Chetan Sakariya (1) and Sheldon Jackson (1).
M Siddharth, another left-arm spinner, removed Chirag Jani (13).
The experienced Arpit Vasavada (45) forged an 89-run stand for the fifth wicket with Desai to frustrate the home team’s bowling attack.
With the pitch offering turn and some deliveries keeping low, the two batters — Desai and Vasavada chose to be circumspect. Desai did not miss out on the opportunity to score when the TN bowlers erred in line and length.
Siddharth ended the partnership by bowling Vasavada.
Comeback man Ravindra Jadeja walked in with the team’s hopes of salvaging the game resting on him.
After making just 15 in the first innings, the left-handed batter would have been looking to make amends. He played watchfully and was involved in a 51-run stand with Desai.
Having started with a reverse sweep for four, Jadeja played watchfully for some time. His dismissal by Ajith Ram to a catch by B Aparajith handed Tamil Nadu the advantage.
Despite Desai’s stiff resistance, Ajith Ram ran through the lower order. Desai’s defiant knock ended when Sandeep Warrier (1/5) castled him, signaling the end of the match.
Ajith Ram finished with impressive figures of 6 for 54 as he ended his debut season with a bang.
It was TN’s second win of the season and helped them finish with 25 points and in fifth spot.
Mumbai, Maharashtra bow out; Andhra sneaks in
In Mumbai, the match between the home team and Maharashtra saw a topsy-turvy final day. After the two sides scored 384 each in the first innings, Maharashtra were bowled out for 252 in the second innings.
Needing 253 in 28 overs for an outright win, Mumbai batters went on the offensive from the start but the dismissal of skipper Ajinkya Rahane (35) to Pradeep Dadhe and Divyaansh (63) to Satyajit Bachhav pegged them back.
Mumbai was 58 runs short when the game ended.
The drawn match enabled Andhra (26 points) to sneak into the knockouts ahead of Mumbai and Maharashtra along with Saurashtra.
Hyderabad succumbed to a nine-wicket defeat to Delhi to end a dismal season with six straight defeats after a draw against TN in the opening game. Hyderabad will be relegated to the Plate group next season.
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