The final round league match between Punjab and Bengal at the Dhruve Pandove Stadium in Patiala is heading for a thrilling finale with Bengal’s second-innings lead inching close to 200. Elsewhere, Delhi posted a mammoth total of 623 in their first bout and have Rajasthan struggling at 115 for four.
Bengal hold edge over Punjab despite late blows
Late strikes from Krishan Alang (five for 53) and Vinay Choudhary (two for 89) helped Punjab reduce Bengal from 146 for four to 199 for nine at stumps on day two at Patiala. Having been bowled out for 138, the visitors were looking down the barrel as Punjab were 93 for two at one point earlier in the day. However, a fightback led by Shahbaz Ahmed’s seven for 57 and Akash Deep’s three for 30 helped Bengal restrict Punjab’s lead to a mere 13 runs. The visitors quickly erased the deficit but were reeling at 21 for three when Arnab Nandi and Manoj Tiwary struck half-centuries to bring them back. At stumps, Bengal has a lead of 186 runs with a wicket in hand.
Axar Patel, Chirag Gandhi fifties strengthen Gujarat
An hour into proceedings after lunch on day two, Gujarat lost skipper Parthiv Patel for 57 with the score at 144 for five, still 33 runs behind Andhra’s total. Axar and Chirag then strung together a crucial 141-run stand, with the former the dominant partner, hitting eight fours and a six en route his half-century. However, the left-hander fell 11 short of his fifty. Yash Gardharia then joined Chirag at the crease and the duo pushed Gujarat’s total to 354 for six at stumps, i.e. a first-innings lead of 177 runs.
Rajasthan in early trouble after Delhi post 623
Both Delhi’s overnight batsmen — Kunwar Bidhuri and Kshitiz Sharma — hit hundreds to pile on the misery after Rajasthan had leaked 389 runs for six wickets on day one. Bidhuri notched up his ton before lunch, hitting 12 fours and two sixes en route his 111, while Sharma’s 103 included 12 fours and a six. Shivam Sharma added 47 runs for the eighth wicket with the latter after Rahul Chahar — who finished with five for 161 — broke the 196-run stand. Powered by their mammoth total, Delhi’s frontline bowlers had the visitors in trouble at 38 for three, but skipper Ashok Menaria saw his team through to 115 for four at stumps, remaining unbeaten on 38.
Faiz Fazal, Ganesh Satish keep champions steady
A classy hundred from skipper Fazal at the top supported ably by Satish’s patient half-century helped the defending champions mount a steady reply to Hyderabad’s first-innings total. At stumps, the visitors reached 242 for four, still 30 runs behind Hyderabad, with Fazal unbeaten on 126 and wicket-keeper batsman Akshay Wadkar alongside. The opener has struck 15 fours and three sixes in his innings so far, while Satish’s knock included nine fours and a six. Earlier in the day, Aditya Thakare (three for 70) and Yash Thakur (four for 55) helped clean up Hyderabad’s tail in quick time.
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