Bengal qualified to the quarter-finals of the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season with a 48-run win over Punjab at Patiala. Elsewhere, Gujarat and Vidarbha inched closer to comfortable wins over Andhra and Hyderabad respectively, while Delhi enforced the follow-on against Rajasthan going into Day 4.
Shahbaz Ahmed, Manoj Tiwary star in Bengal’s comeback-win
Having added just three runs to their overnight total, Bengal set their hosts a target of 190 for victory on day three at Patiala. Five overs in, Punjab were reeling at five for three — and later at 37 for five — with Akash Deep and Co. ripping through the top-order. However, a rearguard action from Ramandeep Singh, who struck six fours and a six en route his unbeaten 69, helped restore some pride for the home side and, at one point, threatened to win it single-handedly. But Shahbaz Ahmed — who finished with match figures of 11 for 101 — struck three crucial blows before two run-outs off consecutive deliveries sealed a 48-run for Bengal. Manoj Tiwary, who hit two half-centuries, was adjudged the Man of the Match as Bengal went to the top of the points table, for now, with 32 points and qualified for the quarter-finals of the tournament.
Gujarat three wickets away from sealing a quarter-final berth
Day three at Nadiad proved to be a fast-moving day for Gujarat, who took a 229-run lead having added 52 runs to their overnight total of 354 for six and picked up seven of Andhra’s second-innings wickets. Chirag Gandhi, who was on 80 overnight, fell seven short of his century, while Shoaib Khan picked up a four-for for the visitors. Andhra’s second bout started decently, but three wickets in the space of seven deliveries saw them reduced to 30 for three. Ricky Bhui and Srikar Bharat got off to starts but failed to convert them, while Karan Shinde’s (64) and Bodapati Sumanth’s (47) 90-run stand gave Andhra hope of a comeback. But Axar Patel removed them both, completing his fifer in the process, as Andhra reached 216 for seven at stumps.
Rajasthan following on despite Ashok Menaria ton
Rajasthan resumed play on day three at 115 for four with two well-set batsmen in Menaria and Rajesh Bishnoi at the crease. But the latter fell in the third over of the day for 24, setting off a chain reaction of batsmen getting starts but failing to convert. All but one, of course, as skipper Menaria completed another hundred in this season’s league phase, hitting 14 fours and three sixes in his 119. Bowled out for 299, i.e. a lead of 324 runs to Delhi, the visitors were asked to follow on. Simarjeet Singh led the way for the hosts with four for 46. The second time, however, they fared much better, reaching 128 for two at stumps, with Mahipal Lomror on 64 still at the crease.
Vidarbha inch closer to a comfortable win at Hyderabad
With their fate — crashing out in the league phase itself — all but sealed, Vidarbha played some expressive cricket on day three of proceedings at Hyderabad. Skipper Faiz Fazal completed his 150 but fell soon after, while Aniketh Reddy (four for 61) triggered a late collapse to dismiss them for 333. With a lead of 61 runs to their name, the visitors had Hyderabad 42 for three at one point, before cameos from Rahul Buddhi, Prateek Reddy, Kolla Sumanth and Mehdi Hassan pushed the score past 100. At stumps, they reached 139 for seven — effectively 78 for seven — with Aditya Sarwate and Akshay Wakhare proving to be chief destroyers claiming six wickets between them.