The Ranji Trophy 2018 round of league games witnessed plenty of action with Varun Aaron putting Jharkhand in a great position against two-time Ranji Trophy champions Rajasthan. Mohammed Shami, who is set to leave for the Test series against Australia, bowled with pace on a green track against Kerala but his side Bengal were in a precarious position. On the other hand, in the plate division, Uttarakhand were rescued by a solid knock from veteran Rajat Bhatia as they reached a strong position against Sikkim. Here is a wrap of all the games played in this round of Ranji games. Irfan Pathan, playing for Jammu and Kashmir, also showed his mettle along with Parvez Rasool to help his side take the lead against Tripura. Basant Mohanty, Odisha’s veteran who recently suffered a family tragedy, picked up 5/31 to bowl Assam out for 121 in Guwahati.
Rajasthan vs Jharkhand
Aaron, who last played for India in the Test series against Australia in 2014/15, wreaked havoc by taking 5-22 in 12 overs at the JSCA International Stadium. Aaron had powered Jharkhand to a nine-wicket win in their last game against Haryana at Rohtak, when he bagged 6-32 in the second outing. In response, Jharkhand also lost their four wickets early, but Ishank Jaggi (44*) and Virat Singh (18*) steadied the ship, with a crucial 58-run stand for the fifth wicket that has taken Jharkhand on the cusp of a first innings lead.
In Rohtak, Himanshu Rana and Nitin Saini hit fifties as Haryana reached a strong position against Goa while Rasool’s five-wicket haul put Jammu and Kashmir in a strong position against Triputa
Brief scores: Rajasthan 100 all out (Rajesh Bishnoi 33, Varun Aaron 5-22, Ajay Yadav 3-35) against Jharkhand 92/5 (Ishank Jaggi 44 not out, Virat Singh 18, T M Ul Haq 4-29). Jharkhand trail by 8 runs.
Brief scores: Haryana 263/9 (Himanshu Rana 86, N R Saini 64; Krishna Das 5-69) versus Goa.
Brief scores: Tripura 124 (Ninad Kadam 34, Smit Patel 21, Parvez Rasool 5-30) against Jammu and Kashmir 154/1 (Shubham Khajuria 52, Irfan Pathan 47 not out). Jammu and Kashmir lead by 30 runs.
Brief scores: Services 256/8 (Devender Lohchab 71 not out, Nitin Tanwar 39, Shivam Mavi 3-44) versus Uttar Pradesh.
Uttarakhand boosted by twin tons
Rajat Bhatia and Saurabh Rawat led Uttarakhand's rearguard action with fighting centuries, taking their team to 290/5 against Sikkim in a top of the table Ranji Trophy Plate Group match. Bhatia made 121 off 156 balls (15x4, 1x6) before becoming Ishwar Chaudhary's (3/81) third victim of the day. Rawat remained unbeaten on 115 off 246 balls with the help of seven fours and three sixes as he along with the skipper shared 208 runs together to revive their innings from 38/4 in 12.5 overs.
Brief scores: Uttarakhand 290/5; 90 overs (Rajat Bhatia 121, Saurabh Rawat 115; Ishwar Chaudhary 3/81) vs Sikkim.
Yogesh Nagar, Taruwar Kohli shine
In Shillong, Meghalaya's recruit from Delhi, Yogesh Nagar, cracked his second successive century in a 197-ball 166 (22x4, 2x6) while opener Raj Biswa also slammed a century (111 from 239 balls; 12x4) as the hosts notched up 338/5 against Nagaland. Mizoram were boosted by Taruwar Kohli’s magnificent century as they reached 219 against Manipur in Jorhat. In response, Manipur were reduced to 54/3.
Brief scores: Mizoram 219; 69.1 overs (Taruwar Kohli 100, Bishworjit 3/50). Manipur 54/3; 15 overs (Yashpal Singh 15*, Lalnunkima Varte 2/20).
Brief scores: Meghalaya 338/5; 90 overs (Yogesh Nagar 166, Raj Biswa 111) vs Nagaland.
Kerala outbowl Bengal in Eden Gardens
Bengal batsmen cut a sorry figure on home turf to be bowled out for 147, giving Kerala an upperhand in their Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match at the Eden Gardens. Basil Thampi returned with career-best first class figures of 4 for 57 as Kerala's three-pronged pace attack shared nine wickets between them to dismiss the hosts in 56.2 overs on a greenish wicket. Playing his first Ranji match of the season, MD Nidheesh (3/22) made a fine comeback, claiming the key wickets of Bengal top-scorer Anustup Majumdar (53) and skipper Manoj Tiwary (22). Seven of Bengal batsmen failed to get to double digits scores and capped five ducks, including that of opener Koushik Ghosh and number three Sudeep Chatterjee. At stumps on day one, Kerala were 35 for the loss of one wicket with Jalaj Saxena (14 not out) and Rohan Prem (14 not out) holding the fort for the visitors. Australia-bound India pacer Mohammed Shami bowled with raw pace and trapped opener Arun Karthik LBW with his second delivery.
Brief scores: Bengal 147 all out in 56.2 overs (Anustup Majumdar 53, Abhishek Raman 40; Basil Thampi 4/57, MD Nidheesh 3/22) vs Kerala 35/1 in 12 overs