Ranji Trophy: Jharkhand survives thriller, knocks out Tamil Nadu

If Chhattisgarh fails to beat Delhi outright on the final day, Jharkhand will top this group and qualify for the knockouts.

Saurabh Tiwary in action.   -  RITU RAJ KONWAR

Saurabh Tiwary led from the front with a brilliant 93 (195b, 6x4, 1x6) to guide Jharkhand to a thrilling two-wicket win over Tamil Nadu in the final Group H Ranji Trophy league match at the Nehru Stadium on Sunday.

It was a remarkable turnaround by Jharkhand after losing the first match to Chhattisgarh by eight wickets before beating Delhi by 15 runs in its second match.

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If Chhattisgarh fails to beat Delhi outright on the final day, Jharkhand will top this group and qualify for the knockouts.

Resuming at 102 for four on the final day, Tiwary and Kumar Kushagra, who made his maiden First-Class fifty took the game away from TN with their 90-run stand for the fifth wicket.

Tiwary, who is known for his big-hitting abilities, played within himself shunning any expansive shots and kept picking the gaps for easy singles.

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It is here TN lost a trick in allowing the two batters to rotate strike rather easily without risks.

The 17-year-old Kushagra, playing only in his second First-Class match at the other end too looked very comfortable.

After a watchful few overs, Kushagra hit two consecutive boundaries, one through covers and one straight through mid-on to ease the pressure. He then tucked one of his pads off Sai Kishore through the fine leg, before nudging a single to get his half-century.

TN got an opening when Kushagra mistimed a pull of Siddharth and top-edged it to the mid-on fielder.

The next batter, Virat Singh quickly hit three boundaries against the spinners putting the pressure back on TN before Aparajith had him caught at backward point. The off-spinner picked up two quick wickets, removing Anukul Roy soon to have Jharkhand at 176 for 7.

However, Tiwary, who top-scored with 58 in the first innings, held for at one end and took the team to 190 for 7 at lunch.

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In the first over after lunch, Tiwary hit Siddharth for two boundaries and then played a beautiful straight drive off Sandeep Warrier to bring down the target to just 10 runs.

With two runs needed for victory, Tiwary was dismissed for 93 run out while being forced to scamper for a leg-bye by the non-striker Rahul Shukla and was visibly frustrated.

Shukla, who bowled his team to a strong position in the second innings with a five-wicket haul after conceding a 59-run lead, managed to flick Warrier for a boundary through mid-wicket to seal a memorable win for Jharkhand.

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