Kedar Jadhav (File Pic) played a key role as Maharashtra upset Mumbai. (Getty Images)
Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Zol helped unfancied Maharashtra upset defending champions Mumbai by eight wickets on the fourth day of their Ranji Trophy quarter-finals match on Saturday at Wankhede Stadium. This is the first time since 1996 that Maharashtra have reached the semi-finals of India's premier domestic tournament.
Maharashtra are joined in the semi-finals by Karnataka and Punjab, who completed expected victories over Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, respectively, also on Saturday. The semis line-up will be completed by the winner of the fourth quarter-finals between Railways and Bengal.
At stumps on the fourth day at Eden Gardens, Railways are 117 for 3 and need a further 154 runs to beat Bengal and book their place in the semi-finals.
Punjab will plays hosts to Karnataka in the semi-finals at Mohali; while Maharashtra take on the winner of the match between Railways and Bengal at Indore. Both the semi-finals start from January 18.
Jadhav and Zol's unbroken 215-run partnership for the third wicket ensured Maharashtra would complete one of the upsets of the season. Maharashtra started the fourth day on 28 for 1 - 224 runs adrift of their target. Zaheer Khan gave Mumbai the perfect start early on Saturday when he had Harshad Khadiwale caught by Kaustubh Pawar as Maharashtra found themselves at 37 for 2. But, this was to be the last breakthrough the defending champions would enjoy in the match as Zol and Jadhav's counter-attacking partnership took the match away from Mumbai with none of the bowlers able to make any impact.
Jadhav, who had scored 51 in Maharashtra's first innings, hit 14 boundaries and three sixes in his 144-ball 120*; while India's Under-19 captain Zol remained unbeaten on 91 from 180 balls.
Maharashtra had conceded a 122-run first innings lead, but their pace bowlers bundled out Mumbai for a paltry 129 in the hosts' second innings; and despite the loss of two early wickets, Jadhav and Zol ensured the visitors would be the ones celebrating a famous win.
KARNATAKA CRUISE TO WIN
Karnataka defeated Uttar Pradesh by 92 runs at Bangalore's M Chinnaswamy Stadium as the visitors never threatened to chase down the 333-run target, especially after being reduced to 138 for 6. Uttar Pradesh resumed on the overnight score of 55 for one, and had added 30 runs to that score when opening batsman Tanmay Srivastava (44) was dismissed by Karnataka captain Vinay Kumar.
Srivastava's dismissal sparked a collapse as Uttar Pradesh slipped from 85 for 1 to 138 for 6 as former India batsman Mohammad Kaif recorded a pair in the match with Abhimanyu Mithun dismissing him in both innings. Leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal (5-59) accounted for Ali Murtaza and Prashant Gupta, while Mithun clean bowled Parvinder Singh to leave Uttar Pradesh reeling.
Eklavya Dwivedi (33) and Piyush Chawla (44) gave Uttar Pradesh a faint hope of the impossible with their 70-run partnership for the seventh wicket, but the end was swift after Mithun ended the stand with Dwivedi's dismissal.
PUNJAB END J&K's RUN
VRV Singh took a five-for as Punjab defeated Jammu & Kashmir by 100 runs at Vadodara's Moti Bagh Stadium. Chasing a stiff fourth innings target of 324, J&K lost wickets at regular intervals with only No. 3 Hardeep Singh putting up a fight.
J&K captain Parvez Rasool was unable to repeat his heroics with the bat as he was trapped plumb in front by Singh for 10 with the score at 135 for 5. J&K were bowled out for 223 as Punjab booked a semi-finals date with Karnataka at Mohali.
RAILWAYS ENJOY SLIGHT ADVANTAGE
Railways are 154 runs away from advancing to the semi-finals, while Bengal will need to take seven wickets when play resumes on Sunday - the fifth and final day of the match.
At stumps on the fourth day at Eden Gardens, Railways are 117 for three in their run chase of 271.
Bengal resumed on their overnight score of 131 for 4 before being all out for 267 with Anureet Singh (5-72) continuing his sensational form in this season's tournament. Wriddhiman Saha (81) and captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla (76) were the only batsmen for the hosts to make any significant contributions. Ashok Dinda, Bengal's No. 10 batsman, used the long handle to good effect as he hit three sixes in his unbeaten 27 to boost the home team's total.
Captain Murali Kartik and Amit Paunikar got Railways' chase off to the perfect start as they added 100 runs for the first wicket before Shukla trapped his counterpart leg before. Paunikar was then run out and then Dinda clean bowled Shivakant Shukla as Railways lost three wickets for three runs. Nitin Bhille and Arindam Ghosh ensured Railways wouldn't suffer any more casualties before bad light ended play early.
Mumbai 402 (Suryakumar Yadav 120, VA Indulkar 82, Samad Fallah 4-103, Anupam Sanklecha 3-77) and 129 (Anupam Sanklecha 4-57, Shrikant Mundhe 3-26, Samad Fallah 3-45) LOST TO Maharashtra 280 (Ankit Bawne 84, Kedar Jadhav 51, Shardul Thakur 6-86, Javed Khan 2-49) and 252 for 2 (Kedar Jadhav 120*, Vijay Zol 91*, Zaheer Khan 2-51).
Karnataka 349 (Ronin Uthappa 100, Karun Nair 100, CM Gautam 100, Amit Mishra 6-106) and 204 (KL Rahul 92*, Ali Murtaza 6-64) DEFEATED Uttar Pradesh 221 for 9 declared (Parvinder Singh 92, Piyush Chawla 56, Abhimanyu Mithun 4-70, Vinay Kumar 3-49) and 240 (Tanmay Srivastava 44, Piyush Chawla 44, Shreyas Gopal 5-59, Abhimanyu Mithun 3-71).
Punjab 304 (Harbhajan Singh 92, Sanddep Sharma 51, Umar Nazir 4-66, Ram Dayal 3-59) and 296 (Mandeep Singh 101, Gurkeerat Singh 66, Parvez Rasool 5-58) DEFEATED Jammu & Kashmir 277 (Parvez Rasool 103, Adil Reshi 65, Sandeep Sharma 4-46, VRV Singh 2-65) and 223 (Hardeep Singh 76*, VRV Singh 5-43, Manpreet Gony 3-43).
Bengal 317 (Sudip Chatterjee 96, Wriddhiman Saha 87, Anureet Singh 4-88, Murali Kartik 2-58) and 267 (Wriddhiman Saha 81, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 76, Anureet Singh 5-72, Karn Sharma 2-45) vs Railways 314 (Mahesh Rawat 119, Arindam Ghosh 97, Ashok Dinda 6-105, Shib Paul 3-47) and 117 for 3 (Murali Kartik 56, Amit Paunikar 41).