New Delhi, Nov 23 (Inditop.com) With contrasting victories in the third round of the Ranji Trophy Super League, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have moved to the top of Group A and B.
The round, which ended Friday, saw Mumbai beat Himachal Pradesh after surprisingly conceding a first-innings lead, while Tamil Nadu scored over Punjab.
Mumbai showed why they have won the national championship for a record 38 times by bouncing back to pull off an 85-run victory over lowly-rated Himachal at home.
Mumbai owe it to their former India fast bowler Ajit Agarkar, who produced a match-winning century after his team conceded the first-innings lead, and to their spinners Iqbal Abdullah and Harmeet Singh who picked seven wickets each.
Tamil Nadu were comprehensive in their victory over hosts Punjab, crushing them by an innings and 45 runs at Amritsar.
M. Vijay (148) and Dinesh Karthik (117) came up with splendid tons to give Tamil Nadu a 293-run first-innings lead and then off-spinner R. Ashwin had a five-wicket haul (5-116) in the second innings to kill any hope of a Punjab fightback.
Former India bowler Lakshmipathy Balaji was impressive in the first innings, picking three wickets for 37, though he went wicketless in the second.
Both Tamil Nadu and Mumbai have won one match each and gained first-innings lead in the other two matches which were drawn.
Tamil Nadu have 12 points and a run rate of 1.461 while Mumbai have nine points and a run rate of 1.561.
With no win and three draws, Gujarat are in third place in Group A with a run rate of 1.435. Their match against Hyderabad was rain-affected, but surprisingly they did not make an effort to force a result even though they had a handy lead on the third day. They went on batting the entire fourth day, scoring 536 in reply to Hyderabad’s first-innings score of 236. Rujul Bhatt (186) and skipper Parthiv Patel (105) scored centuries. Gujarat fast bowler Siddharth Trivedi had a five-wicket haul in the first innings.
In Group B, Karntaka’s third round match against Bengal failed to produce an outright result but they managed to take the first innings lead to take their total points tally to 11 points.
Karnataka’s only win had come in their first round match against Uttar Pradesh at Meerut where they beat the home team by a massive 185 runs. Their second round match against Delhi was a draw. Despite a career best performance of their right arm medium-pacer R. Vinay Kumar (eight for 32) and some sensational batting by young Manish Pandey in the second innings, Karnataka could not force a victory.
In the match against Bengal, Karnataka’s strong batting was in evidence as K.B. Pawan (134), Amit Verma (157) and C.M. Gautam (108) hit centuries.
Bengal, who last year gained promotion from the Plate Division to super league, are in second place with seven points.
Bengal started off the season with a seven-wicket win over Maharashtra, but their second round match against Baroda ended in a draw. The home team’s batting looked formidable with the presence of former India captain Sourav Ganguly, but Baroda boosted by the presence of Pathan brothers — Irfan and Yusuf — matched them.
Rohan Banerjee’s century 107 against Karnataka was heartening in the absence of Ganguly and so were the half centuries by Deep Dasgupta and Manoj Tiwary. In bowling, Saurabh Lahiri and Ranadeb Bose have shown promise.
Former Ranji champions Uttar Pradesh, who are still looking for the first win of the season, are in the third place with six points.
The bowling seems to be UP’s strong suit. If Shalabh Srivastava, and R.P. Singh were the pick of the bowlers against Saurashtra, it was Piyush Chawla against Baroda.
Among the batsmen in Super league, Parthiv tops with 430 runs, Delhi vice-captain Shikhar Dhawan, who scored his maiden double century against Baroda follows next with 350 runs while Tamil Nadu’s Vijay with 308 runs is at the third place.
Saurashtra’s Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored three triple centuries in the last season, also looks in ominous touch. He made an unbeaten double century in his comeback match against Maharashtra after being ruled out for six months due to a knee injury.
Among the bowlers, Vinay leads with 19 wickets and is followed by Himachal Pradesh’s Vikramjeet Singh Malik and Ranadeb, the two having 15 wickets each, while Lahiri has 14 wickets.
In the fourth round matches, beginning Tuesday, Karnataka take on Maharashtra at Pune and Tamil Nadu will have to brave the northern winter at Dharamsala against hosts Himachal. Delhi will take on Uttar Pradesh at Lucknow.
Hyderabad v Orissa in Hyderabad; Himachal Pradesh v Tamil Nadu, at Dharamsala ; Punjab v Gujarat at Mohali; Railways v Mumbai in Delhi.
Group B: Bengal v Saurashtra in Kolkata; Maharashtra v Karnataka at Pune; U.P. v Delhi in Lucknow.