Shillong, Jan 11: Manipur are just 17 runs away from victory after completely dominating the second day of their Ranji Trophy plate group match against Meghalaya at the MCA Ground here today.
Only the fading light and the ticking clock prevented the visitors from winning the game on the second day itself.
Resuming their first innings on 81/4, Manipur were eventually out for 220 and then rolled Meghalaya over for 91, leaving them just 29 to win. At stumps, they were 12/1 and they will, barring a miracle, celebrate victory tomorrow.
Akash K Choudhary (2/40) claimed the first of his two wickets early in the morning session but Rex Rajkumar (27) and overnight batter Ronald Longjam added 54 for the fifth wicket.
Ronald (43) missed out on a half-century by being run out by Choudhary and the tail wagged long enough to get Manipur past 200. Number 11 Bishworjit Konthoujam lasted just long enough to allow P Prafullomani (50 not out) reach his personal milestone before slicing a ball into Dippu Sangma’s hands to become guest professional Rajesh Bishnoi’s (5/63) fifth wicket; this was the left-arm spinner’s fourth five-wicket haul in this season’s Ranji Trophy and he is in the top five among wicket-takers this year.
Meghalaya’s other wicket-taker was Abhishek Kumar, who bagged one wicket at the start yesterday and another towards the end of the innings today to finish with figures of 2/54.
Though they faced a 63-run deficit going into their second innings, Meghalaya had overcome such a hurdle on three separate occasions to win this season but the momentum was firmly with Manipur, who came out rearing to go with ball in hand.
Left-arm spinner Kishan Singha, who took six wickets yesterday, opened the bowling with pacer Jotin Pheiroijam at the other end. The two bowled in tandem for 22 overs.
Pheiroijam (3/24) bowled intelligently and fast, mixing up shorter and fuller deliveries to make life difficult for the hosts. He had Bamanbha Shangpliang (1) nick one to the keeper and then, in the same over, Sanvert Kurkalang out for a duck caught behind with a short-pitched ball.
Later he dealt a literal blow to Meghalaya after he struck Kishan Lyngdoh on the arm with a sharp delivery. Lyngdoh (29) had to retire hurt, though he was able to return later on.
At the other end, Singha (2/27) trapped Swarajeet Das (7) lbw after the batter attempted a sweep and then bagged the biggest prize of all by dismissing guest professional Punit Bisht for a duck.
In contrast to Manipur, Meghalaya’s tail could not wag all that much and Bishnoi was left stranded on 27 not out, with Tarique Siddique (14) the only other batter to reach double figures.
Despite not having much of a total to defend, Meghalaya went about their business as best they could and Kumar struck in the first over by dismissing Karnajit Yumnam lbw for nought. However, a couple of fours flowed off the bat for B Rahman (5*) and Ronald (7*) to ease any pressure Manipur may have been facing.
(Meghalaya Cricket Association photo. Manipur players celebrate the dismissal of Meghalaya’s Punit Bisht)