Ranji Trophy: Railways struggles to stay afloat against Hyderabad

Railways was staring at its second innings defeat in as many games at home after being cleaned up for 246 in its first innings and being 13 for no loss in its second essay. It still trails Hyderabad by 215 runs.

Railways G. Chiranjeevi is bowled by Mehdi Hasan (2nd L) of Hyderabad during the third day of the Ranji Trophy cricket match against Railways at Karnail Singh Stadium in New Delhi on Friday.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Railways was staring at its second innings defeat in as many games at home after being cleaned up for 246 in its first innings and being 13 for no loss in its second essay following on against Hyderabad at stumps on Day Three of the game here on Friday, still trailing by 215 runs chasing Hyderabad's 474 for nine declared.

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T. Ravi Teja, making his First Class debut, was the star for Hyderabad, picking up a five-wicket haul in his maiden outing. The 23-year old had earlier proved his utility with the bat and now shone with the ball, poking the Railways batsmen with his probing line and not allowing space to open up.

MATCH REPORT: Day 1, Day 2

With Ravi Teja keeping the pressure on from one end and with runs being choked at the other by the spin trio of Pragyan Ojha, Mehdi Hasan and Akash Bhandari, Hyderabad was always in control of the game. Experienced Shivakant Shukla and Nitin Bhille added 78 runs for the second wicket in an attempt to spend as much time as possible at the crease but once that partnership was broken – Bhille rapped on the pads by Bhandari's away-going delivery for 43 – Railways batting failed to get going.

LIVE BLOG: Ranji Trophy, Day 3

Two wickets in four balls by Ravi Teja – his 12th over – saw both Shukla and captain Mahesh Rawat walk back to leave Railways reeling at 125 for five at lunch and the double blow broke the host's batting. Railways was still 349 runs in arrears at that time and though Hyderabad was assured a first-innings lead, it had to fight another two sessions to get there. Five of the dismissals were leg-before, raising questions on the batsmen's inability to read the ball's movement on its home pitch that was beginning to develop cracks.

Anureet Singh and Manish Rao, the debutant for Railways, brought some life back into the Railways batting and resisted the Hyderabad bowlers. Anureet top-scored with 60 in just 95 balls – his highest First-Class score and maiden half-century – that included nine fours including three stepping out and hit straight down the ground. Rao remained unbeaten on 33 in 114 balls but his presence at the other end – 60 of the 85 runs in their partnership were scored by Anureet – was crucial for his team.

In the end, however, it didn't help much as Hyderabad, having lost two games to rain, hoped to register its first win of the tournament on Saturday. Three points for first-innings lead, however, looks a more likely result.