CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu’s slim hopes of qualifying for the Ranji Trophy knockouts from the combined Groups A and B ended with Karnataka and Bengal winning their respective final league matches.
For Baba Aparajith & Co to advance, they needed a win against Saurashtra and those two teams to lose their respective matches.
The draw for the quarterfinals will be released by the BCCI on Saturday, but as things stand, the teams who have made it to the knockouts are Bengal, Karnataka, Gujarat, Saurashtra, Andhra, Jammu & Kashmir, and Goa.
There is a tight contest between Odisha and Services for the lone remaining spot from Group C. Between them, Services are best placed to get an outright result as Chhattisgarh, who conceded a first-innings lead of 219 ended the day at 325 for 1 and are 106 runs ahead of them.
If both the fixtures end in a draw, it will come down to first-innings lead and Odisha are just a wicket away from dismissing Jharkhand and gaining the upper hand in the fixture.
Tamil Nadu’s bowlers put up an average performance on Day 3 in Rajkot as they managed only three wickets. Having posted 424 in the first innings, the visitors lost the plot on Friday. From their overnight score of 107 for three, Saurashtra ended the day at 346 for six, trailing by just 76 runs.
The hosts’ senior batsman Arpit Vasavada led the fightback to keep their hopes of gaining three points alive. Though they have already qualified, Saurashtra did not sit back and let Tamil Nadu dictate the game.
It was Vasavada’s unbeaten 126 and wicketkeeper Avi Barot’s 82 that helped Saurashtra steady the ship after the top-order collapsed on the second day. The duo shared 108 runs for the fourth wicket. While Vasavada’s 267-ball knock contained 13 fours and one six, Barot hit 10 boundaries and a maximum.
The 27-year-old Barot fell short of his second first-class hundred when he edged to wicketkeeper N Jagadeesan off right-arm pacer K Vignesh.
Saurashtra looked to be in trouble when pacer M Mohammed removed Samarth Vyas (10) cheaply to leave the team at 213 for five. Prerak Mankad was the next wicket to fall for 13 when left-arm spinner M Siddharth trapped him leg before.
The hosts took tea at 253 for six, still trailing by 172 runs at that point. However, Vasavada hung on and found a partner in No 8 Chirag Jani to frustrate Tamil Nadu. The duo forged an unbroken 104-run stand for the seventh wicket as Jani ended the day at 47 not out.