WITH ONLY the last day remaining, the Ranji Trophy Plate group final seems interestingly poised with both Gujarat and Railways in with a chance to seal victory. At stumps on Tuesday, the penultimate day, Gujarat were 30 without loss, chasing a target of 150.
It would be interesting to see if the Gujarat batsmen are able to complement their bowlers' efforts, who bowled Railways out for a paltry 169 in the second innings.
The likes of Nilesh Modi, the first innings centurion, Parthiv Patel and Niraj Patel have their task cut out for Wednesday, what with Railways spinners, Murali Kartik and Kulamani Parida, expected to bowl with a vengeance on a pitch that has started assisting the tweakers.
The day started in dramatic manner with umpire GA Pratap Kumar upholding a controversial appeal, which put Railways on the back-foot. It all began in the first over of the day when, resuming on the overnight score of 14 for 1, Kartik struck two boundaries off Siddharth Trivedi and then ran a single to give Sanjay Bangar strike.
The next ball took an edge off Bangar's bat and it appeared the slip fielder, Niraj Patel, took it on first bounce. However, umpire Kumar upheld the appeal to peg Railways back.
This started the Railways slide and, by lunch, they were reduced to 90 for 6, with all the wickets going to the medium-pacers. Right-armer Amit Singh (three for 22) was the most successful.
A 58-run stand between first innings centurion Harshad Rawle (45) and Raja Ali (46) for the seventh wicket gave some respectability to the Railways scoreboard.
The situation could have been worse for the Railways had umpire Kumar upheld the hit-wicket appeal in Gujarat's favour. In the 48th over, when Railways had barely crossed the three-figure mark, southpaw Ali flicked one from Trivedi to the square-leg. As he took off for a run, Ali fumbled but managed to complete the run. The Gujarat fielders noticed that the bail had been dislodged and appealed for hit-wicket. But umpire Kumar ruled in Ali's favour, saying the bail had fallen because of the breeze.
It took some time for the Gujarat camp to get over the dubious decision.