Meghalaya need to take seven wickets to beat Arunachal Pradesh in their Ranji Trophy plate group match, which will enter its fourth and final day in Anand, Gujarat, tomorrow.
At stumps today, Arunachal were reduced to 12/3 in their second innings, needing exactly 400 more runs for an unlikely victory.
They resumed their first innings today morning on 148/4, which was 462 runs behind Meghalaya’s mammoth first innings score of 610/6 declared.
Anup Ahlawat was Arunachal’s chief hope and he was eventually out for 153 after adding 30 runs to his overnight score, caught by guest professional and wicketkeeper Punit Bisht off the bowling of Dippu Ch Sangma (2/44).
However, Meghalaya encountered further resistance from tailenders Chandan Kumar Singh (62 not out) and Siddharth Balodi (37) and Arunachal were able to get to 331, giving Meghalaya a first innings lead of 279.
Left-arm spinner Arbin Singh finished with figures of 3/53 on his Ranji debut, while pace bowler Abhishek Kumar nabbed 3/61. The other wickets were claimed by Raj Biswa (1/33) and guest professional Rajesh Bishnoi (1/87).
After toiling for 90 overs, Meghalaya’s bowlers needed a bit of a break and the batters took over again in search of some quick runs to bat Arunachal out of the contest.
These runs came from Raj Biswa, who missed out on a half-century in the first innings by just one run but hit 53 not out today from 72 balls, with four fours. Lerry Sangma, coming in at Number 4, was the real surprise package, as he smashed 51 from 46, with four fours and three sixes. This was his highest score and maiden half-century in first-class cricket.
His dismissal led to Meghalaya declaring on 132/3 from 25.2 overs, which set Arunachal a target of 412 for victory.
Ahlawat was unable to recreate his first innings magic after he was bowled for a golden duck by an elated Kumar, who also dismissed James Ngurang for a duck to finish the day with figures of 2/12. The other wicket was taken by a run out effected by Lakhan Singh Nahar.
As such, Meghalaya will go into the final day the favourites but must not underestimate Arunachal’s determined batters.