Ranji Trophy: Goa defeats Andhra by 34 runs

A strong bowling performance from Goa, led by its fast bowler Rituraj Singh, helped it beat Andhra by 34 runs in a low-scoring Ranji Trophy Group C encounter at the Railway Stadium.

Rituraj Singh took 4 for 24 in 7.2 overs to peg Andhra back in its chase of 233.   -  V. Ganesan

Goa derailed Andhra's chase and picked up a 34-run victory less than a quarter of an hour before lunch on the third day of its Ranji Trophy Group C match at the Railway Stadium on Thursday.

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Set a target of 233, the southern side’s chase drew to a halt just 34 runs short, despite Ricky Bhui’s valiant 71 (3 x 4, 3 x 6). Goa got six points and Andhra none. The defeat is likely to jeopardise the latter’s bid for a knockout berth in a three-way contest with Haryana and arch-rival Hyderabad.

Things hadn’t looked too bleak to the table topper when play began, the overnight pair of Ravi Teja and Bhui negotiating the turn and bounce well. Teja, playing away from the body, survived a snick that went abegging through the slips. Barely half an hour into Day Three, he fell victim to the weakness, an inner edge leaving his woodwork in disarray off the wily Jakati.

A. G. Pradeep was bemused by the strapping spinner as was he by the decision declaring him caught behind. Forcing shots kept Bhui out of trouble as did his compact method, bolstered by a high back lift that helped him middle the ball well. Nimble footwork kept him abreast of the left-arm orthodox assault from both ends, one over from offie Saurabh Bandekar being a mere interlude.

Chipping away

When Bhargav Bhatt got belligerent, hoisting Jakati over the mid wicket railing, Rituraj stepped up from the church end. Lucky to survive a caught behind chance off the speedster’s first ball and a graze off the bat-handle from a steepler, the left-hander was snaffled at fine leg by a diving Felix Alemao, who showed splendid anticipation to speed in from long leg.

Rituraj continued to be hostile, invariably unleashing at least once bouncer in each over. K. V. Sashikanth’s stay was short, as he prodded the paceman to Sagun Kamat in the slips. With partners deserting him one after another, the onus was on Bhui. He farmed the strike, shielding the lower-order batsmen, especially against Rituraj.

The prized scalp of Bhui went to Amulya Pandrekar, who had worked hard through the morning to breach the batsman’s defences. The wait was worth the while. An outer edge, which was promptly gloved by Dubhashi, ended the ex-India under 19 batsman’s stint.

Where the top order failed little could be hoped for from the tailenders. Ch. Stephen struck a six but had had his off-stump uprooted by Ritu Raj. B. Siddharth’s attitude against the mounting odds could not be matched by ability. His pull off Rituraj was picked up by Sumiran Amonkar at deep square leg, bringing the curtains down on the match.