Punjab beat Andhra by four wickets in a low-scoring thriller at Patiala, closing the gap between the two to just three points. Elsewhere, Kerala closed out day two trailing Vidarbha by 135 runs with seven wickets in hand, while Rajasthan’s new-ball bowlers helped gain a 118-run first-innings lead.
Anmol Malhotra guides Punjab home
Chasing 124 for victory, Punjab were reduced to 32 for five in the 12th over courtesy of some fine new-ball bowling by the in-form Shoaib Khan and his partner Siraparapu Ashish. It was wicket-keeper batsman Malhotra — Man-of-the-Match for his unbeaten 51 — and No.6 Abhishek Gupta who rescued the ship with a 69-run stand. Gupta fell for 37, which included two fours and a six, before Malhotra, who struck four fours and a six en route his half-century, took the hosts home along with Mayank Markande. Earlier in the day, Vinay Choudhary took six and Markande picked up four for 46 to bowl Andhra out for 134 in their second bout.
Mohammed Azharuddeen fifty keeps Kerala steady
When proceedings got underway after a delayed start due to the wet outfield, Kerala had the Vidarbha reduced to 276 for nine by the end of the first hour. However, a 65-ball 66 from No.10 Darshan Nalkande stretched the defending champions’ total to 326. For Kerala, MD Nidheesh completed his fifer, while NP Basil (three for 54) provided him with able support. The visitors then got off to a steady start with a 70-run stand between openers Azharuddeen and skipper Jalaj Saxena. The former carried on after Saxena fell for 30, adding another 69 runs along with Rohan Prem. The wicket-keeper batsman struck nine fours and two sixes en route his 81, before Sachin Baby and Akshay Chandran saw Kerala through to 191 for three at stumps.
Bowlers put Rajasthan on top against Bengal
Resuming at 47 for one, Bengal collapsed, lost their remaining wickets for just 76 runs, and conceded a first-innings lead of 118 runs to Rajasthan. Medium pacers Tanveer Ul-Haq (four for 48) and Rituraj Singh (four for 30) proved to be the prime causes for the visitors’ collapse. Desperate to fightback, Bengal had their hosts reeling at 29 for four, before middle and lower-order cameos — led by Rajesh Bishnoi’s 49-ball 46 — helped Rajasthan to end day two with a massive 274-run lead. Nikantha Das picked up four for 26 as the hosts reached 156 for eight at stumps.
Manprit Juneja, Dhruv Raval lead Gujarat’s charge
Delhi’s hopes of taking their total past the 300-run mark were cut short when top-scorer Kunwar Bidhuri (78) was dismissed off the fifth ball of the day. Roosh Kalaria, who finished with figures of five for 78, then cleaned up the tail as Delhi’s first innings ended at 293. The hosts struck back with two early strikes, leaving Gujarat at 33 for two, before half-centurion Samit Gohel steadied the ship. Gohel’s dismissal was followed by another one soon after and the visitors suddenly had two new batsmen at the crease — the team still trailing Delhi by 205 runs. However, Juneja and Raval cashed in on their opportunity with unbeaten half-centuries — 88 and 83 respectively — to take their team through to 269 for four at stumps.