Andhra finished its Ranji Trophy campaign on a high note with an eight-wicket win over Uttarakhand in a Group E match at the KCA-St.Xavier’s College ground on Saturday.
After rolling over Uttarakhand for a paltry 101, Andhra cruised to the target (70) runs for the loss of two wickets, seven minutes before the tea with opener C.R. Gnaneshwar remaining unbeaten on 42 and captain Ricky Bhui, who scored the winning runs, unbeaten on 2.
However, the result had no bearing on the qualification as Services did Uttarkhand a favour by defeating Rajasthan at the Greenfield stadium. Uttarakhand progressed to the next round as the group winner. The Stephen-Ashish axis swept away Uttarakhand which lost eight wickets for just 65 runs in 39 overs on the penultimate day.
Stephen’s fiery spell late on Friday evening had rattled Uttarkhand and he bowled with the same zeal in the morning. He had the batters hopping around and he ended Tanush Gusain’s misery when he won the lbw decision against the batter. Stephen trapped both Deepesh Nainwal and Swapnil Singh in front with an inswingers to take his second five-wicket haul in the tournament.
However, Kunal Chadela batted solidly but didn’t have enough support from the other end. Dikshanshu Negi played a horrendous shot, trying to hoick Ayyappa and was caught at mid on to leave his side in dire straits.
Ashish, who was introduced into the attack after lunch, soon found generous help from the pitch. He made a few deliveries to bounce awkwardly and quickly polished off the Uttarakhand tailenders. Sauabh Rawat (6) got faint edge to a bouncing delivery and it was snapped up by wicketkeeper Girinath.
Ashish dismissed both Mayank Mishra (2) and Agrim Tiwari (0) in quick succession to force Kunal Chandela to take the risk. After running out of partners, Kunal Chandela tried a fancy reverse sweep off Ashish but only managed to edge a catch to Girinath and it ended the innings.
Andhra lost Girinath early in its chase but Gnaneshwar and Shaikh Rasheed played sensibly choosing the right balls to attack. The free stroking Gnaneshwar did the bulk of scoring in the 54-run partnership for the second wicket. Shaikh Rasheed (20) fell trying a big hit off Swapnil Singh but Ricky Bhui joined Gnaneshwar to see their side home.