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Cricket news - Saxena's heroics headline Kerala's thrilling win

The veteran all-rounder showed his class and quality with a seven-wicket haul

The veteran all-rounder showed his class and quality with a seven-wicket haul

Nailbiting finish - Saxena's seven-for sinks Punjab

In a thrilling finish at Thiruvananthapuram, Jalaj Saxena's seven-for helped Kerala defend a target of 146 against table-toppers Punjab, who fell short by 21 runs. It was Kerala's first win of the season, and a dramatic one at that after their lower-order was shot out in a single spell by Siddarth Kaul who took five quick wickets this morning.

But even with a seemingly paltry target, Kerala had the off-spin of Saxena to their rescue - as early as the second ball of the chase when he got rid of Rohan Marwaha. From there, Punjab could only as much as sputter along with Saxena Saxena offering no respite, bowling unchanged right through and only stopping when he had bagged the final wicket after a marathon spell of 23.1 overs.

Nailbiting finish-to-be

The cliffhanger between Haryana and Odisha was deferred to the final day with Odisha needing 32 more runs with three wickets in hand. Chasing 179 at Rohtak, Odisha got off to a steady start with an opening partnership of 41, before being thrown out of whack by medium-pacer Ajit Chahal's six-for. They lost five wickets for the next 37 runs and were on their way to capitulation. But a sixth-wicket stand of 46 between Govinda Poddar and Rajesh Dhuper served up another twist. Chahal was at hand to break that partnership though, before bad light decided to leave something for tomorrow.

Not a nailbiting finish

Manipur lost 16 wickets in the day to be rolled over by an innings and 183 runs by Bihar who bagged the bonus point as well. Medium pacer Abhijeet Saket took eight of those 16 wickets today. He completed a seven-wicket haul in the first innings where Manipur were shot out for 94 in response to Bihar's 431. Then, asked to follow on, Manipur were about to outdo their own ineptitude at 57 for 7, before Rex Singh struck some shots enroute an unbeaten 77 as Manipur paddled on for a few more breaths before sinking totally.

Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand suffer batting collapses

Karnataka are looking at a situation where they have to bat out the final day to avoid an outright defeat against Saurashtra. This after being asked to follow-on having suffered a first-innings debacle where they were bundled out for 171 in response to Saurashtra's massive 581. Captain Jaydev Unadkat led Saurashtra's charge with a five-for which included wickets of the entire top four. With Karnataka's cream gone, off-spinner Kamlesh Makvana whipped out the rest, contributing with a three-fer. Karnataka started steadily though in the second innings - their openers surviving 16 overs to bat out the day.

Tamil Nadu were off to a good start in response to Mumbai's 488. But from 178 for 2, they had a mighty fall losing five wickets for 17 runs. This collapse included the wickets of well set Kaushik Gandhi (60), captain Baba Aparajith (14), Baba Indrajith (6), Pradosh Ranjan Paul (0) and Dinesh Karthik (7), That stretch of play before tea made a massive dent in their hopes of a first-innings lead. However, remarkably, Tamil Nadu didn't lose a single wicket in the final session with Ravichandran Ashwin and Sai Kishore combining for a gritty stand.

Left-arm spinner Satyajeet Bachhav's five-for got Maharashtra aiming for an outright win over Jharkhand. Bachhav sprung into action in the afternoon session on day three, hastily cutting through Jharkhand's middle-order to bowl them out for 170 - 264 shy of what Maharashtra had posted. Jharkhand were 47 for 1 at the close of play in their follow-on innings.

Ouch Mizoram

Two double-centuries. One century. A first-innings total of 662 for 4 at a run-rate of over five. And then reducing the opposition to 114 for 7. Meghalaya had another decent day out in Kolkata. Mizoram, not quite.

Overnight centurions Sanjay Yadav and Dwarka Ravi Teja both kicked on for unbeaten double hundreds, with Yadav even in sight of the fastest-ever triple hundred, batting on 254* off 228 balls when the declaration came. Kedar Jadhav's record (off 285 balls) lives on.

It didn't end there for Mizoram either, as their batsmen couldn't find the same warmth out of the pitch and instead felt the heat. Of the six bowlers Meghalaya employed, five of them shared the wickets between them to leave Mizoram in the direst of straits.

Other standouts

Rahul Dalal's sensational double-hundred lifted Arunachal Pradesh from a precarious 194 for 7 as they went on to score 460, although it still wasn't enough to avoid handing Nagaland the first-innings lead.

Captain Naman Ojha struck a hundred for Madhya Pradesh, who found themselves in fair trouble at 111 for four in their second innings, still in deficit after conceding a first innings lead. Ojha's ton, and later Yash Dubey's 79* got MP in front by 188 runs at the time of stumps.

India watch

Hanuma Vihari scored a half-century, although there were other more significant contributions from the Andhra middle and lower order that swelled their lead to 264 over rivals Hyderabad before the declaration came. Hyderabad were struggling at 45 for 3 and are locked in a battle for survival.

Ashwin, as mentioned above, contributed with the bat this time but Mumbai are still placed for the first-innings lead in Chennai.

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