Wasim Jaffer’s brilliant 178 helped defending champions Vidarbha eliminate 41-time champions Mumbai in the league stages of the Ranji Trophy tournament with a commanding innings victory at the VCA stadium in Jamtha. Jaffer’s 178 off 190 balls was complimented by a magnificent spell from Akshay Wakhare (5/45) and Aditya Sarwate (6/48) as Mumbai were bowled out for 252 and 113. With this result, Vidarbha have sealed their spot in the last eight. However, the race for the other spots in the quarterfinals has gotten closer with some teams losing the initiative and others coming closer to securing a spot. With just one round of games to go before the quarterfinals, many teams are facing a do-or-die situation.
One of the teams is Kerala, who were trounced by 10 wickets against Punjab in Mohali. Kerala were bowled out for 121 with Siddarth Kaul continuing his great run with 6/55. Punjab were boosted by fifties from Jiwanjyot Singh (69) and Mandeep Singh (89) as they took a 96-run lead. Kerala responded well in the second innings with Mohammed Azharudden scoring 112 but Punjab chased the target of 131 with ease. Kerala’s loss made their path to the quarterfinal even harder with Madhya Pradesh securing a convincing 140-run against Himachal Pradesh in Indore. With five teams slated to go through from Group A and B, Vidarbha lead the standings, followed by Karnataka, Saurashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Punjab’s victory has given them a chance for a spot in the last eight with Kerala and Himachal Pradesh also in the fray.
In other games, Bengal secured a hard-fought seven wicket win over Delhi while Rajasthan came closer to sealing their spot in the quarterfinal from Group C with a convincing 10-wicket win over Goa in Porvorim. Robin Bist was the star with 169* and the team was well-backed by Rahul Chahar who picked up nine wickets in the match.
In the Plate Division, there were records galore with Punit Bisht scoring the first triple century of the 2018/19 Ranji Trophy season as his blazing 343 helped Meghalaya draw the match against Sikkim. Two teams from the Plate Division will go into the quarterfinals. Uttarakhand and Bihar are currently in first and second position but Puducherry, making their debut in the Ranji season, have a chance to upstage Bihar and secure second spot. Puducherry take on Nagaland in their last round of Ranji Games scheduled from January 7 to January 10. The quarterfinals will be held from January 15 with the final on February 3.
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