Assam reach first-ever Ranji semis; Mumbai, MP also qualify

Valsad (Gujarat), Feb 6 (IANS) The Assam team etched their names in domestic cricket history, beating much-fancied Punjab by 51 runs to enter the Ranji Trophy semifinals for the first time here on Saturday.

With Punjab trailing by 63 runs in their second innings at the start of the fourth day of their quarter-final clash at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, Assam needed just 20 balls to take the final two wickets and seal a well-deserved victory. Punjab were bowled out for 236 in their second innings after managing to score only 12 of the 64 runs they needed to win.

Medium-pacer Arup Das was the star of the show, claiming the last two wickets for figures of 8/83. The 24-year-old right-armer finished with match figures of 11/124.

In the semi-finals, Assam will face Saurashtra at Vadodara while Mumbai will play Madhya Pradesh in Cuttack. Both semi-finals will be held from February 13-17.

Saurashtra had defeated Vidarbha by an innings and 85 runs in their quarter-final clash which ended on Friday.

Meanwhile at Mysore, spinners Jay Bista and Iqbal Abdulla ripped through the Jharkhand line-up, notching up five-wicket hauls as Mumbai completed a massive 395-run win.

Bista had figures of 5/16 and Abdulla registered 5/35 as Jharkhand collasped to 94 all out after starting the day at 28/1 while chasing a target of 490 runs. The domination of the Mumbai bowlers can be gauged from the fact that only three Jharkhand batsmen managed to post doubles figures in the second innings, with overnight batsman Shiv Gautam scoring 27 to be their top scorer.

The opener added 36 runs with Virat Singh (26) before Jharkhand suffered a dramatic collapse, losing their last nine wickets for 30 runs.

At the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, Madhya Pradesh went through to the last four stage after they finished their drawn match against Bengal with a massive lead of 675 runs.

Starting the final day at the overnight score of 338/5, the Madhya Pradesh batsmen continued their run feast against the hapless Bengal bowlers before declaring their second innings at 560/9. Middle-order batsman Harpreet Singh dominated the bowlers with some excellent stroke play, converting his overnight score of 18 into a splendid century.

The 24-year-old posted 139 to be his team’s highest scorer in the second innings before being stumped by Bengal wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha off Pragyan Ojha’s bowling. He hit 14 boundaries during his 206-ball innings. The right-hander had scored a half-century during the first innings.

Harpreet’s overnight partner Ankit Dane was also in excellent form at the other end, posting a half-century as the duo added 149 runs for the sixth wicket. After Dane was sent back to the pavilion by leg-spinner Abhimanyu Easwaran, Harpreet kept the scoreboard ticking with a 65-run partnership with Ankit Sharma (25).

Set an improbable victory target of 788 runs, Bengal lost a couple of early wickets in their second innings before finishing at 113/3.

Brief scores:

Assam: 323 (Syed Mohammad 121, Pallavkumar Das 46; Kaul 4/99) and 101 (Arup 31, Sran 5/43, Kaul 4/25) beat Punjab: 137 (Sidhana 80, Arup 3/41) and 236 (Gurkeerat 64, Arup 8/83) by 51 runs.

Mumbai: 416 (Herwadkar 107, Nayar 74, Nadeem 5/140) and 245 (Iyer 81, Quadri 5/62) beat Jharkhand: 172 (Kaushal 43, Herwadkar 3/26) and 94 (Bista 5/16, Abdulla 5/35) by 395 runs.

Madhya Pradesh: 348 (Shrivastava 65, Ojha 64, Bundela 58, Harpreet 51; V.P. Singh 5/76) and 560 (Harpreet 139, Patidar 137, Bundela 72, Dane 69, Ojha 52) drew with Bengal: 121 (Easwaran 48; Pandey 4/45) and 113/3.

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