Maharashtra in driverís seat against Assam

Maharashtra finished strongly at the end of Day Three of their final Ranji Trophy Group C encounter against Assam in Guwahati. On 94 for four, with veteran Dheeraj Jadhav unbeaten on 37 and Gokul Sharma on two, the hosts still require 250 more runs to win on the final day.

Maharashtra, who were bowled out in their second innings for 134, had set a target of 343 runs for Assam to win. Earlier, Maharashtra resumed at 16 for no loss but lost wickets at regular intervals. Openers Harshad Khadiwale and skipper Rohit Motwani, both returned to the pavilion cheaply, scoring 15 and 10 runs, respectively.

First innings centurion Kedar Jadhav was the only Maharashtra batsman who mustered any resistance, scoring 34 runs off 56 balls. Sangram Atitkar, who batted at number seven in the second innings, gave his side some impetus, but with spinner Jamaluddin Syed Mohammed wreaking havoc, the side folded up with 134 runs on the board.

Syed Mohammed used the deteriorating track to his advantage finishing with seven for 50. Assam's captain Abu Nechim Ahmed scalped a couple of wickets while Amit Sinha picked up one wicket.

Assam, in reply, started brightly with openers Jadhav and Parvez Aziz putting on 49 runs. However, Khadiwale ran out Aziz and left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar, who had snapped up six wickets in the first innings, trapped new batsman Rishav Das in front off the first ball that he faced. Amit Sinha nicked one to wicketkeeper Motwani off Pushkaraj Chavan and experienced hand Niraj Patel was caught at slip off Chirag Khurana.

Maharashtra, who already have 29 points from seven games, look set to make the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy. Assam will need to play out of their skins, with only six wickets in hand and three sessions to play on a track which looks to increasingly aid spinners.

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