Less than 24 hours after being dropped from the India Test squad, Cheteshwar Pujara smashed a 83-ball 91 for Saurashtra in their Ranji Trophy match against Mumbai in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

The Elite Group D match ended in a draw with Saurashtra making 372 for nine in their second innings on the fourth and final day.

Saurashtra were only 48 runs ahead when the stumps were drawn but the lack of time meant Mumbai could not go for an outright victory.

So the record 41-time winners picked up three points from the game for taking the first-innings lead while defending champions Saurashtra bagged one.

Bowling his slow left-arm spin to good effect, Shams Mulani returned career-best figures of 7/114, adding to his four wickets in the Saurashtra first innings.

On Saturday, senior batters Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were dropped from the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka, starting from March 4 in Mohali after an inconsistent run.

The seasoned Pujara has managed just 602 runs at 24.08 in 14 Tests over the last one year. Pujara, who last scored a Test century on the 2018-19 tour of Australia, got out for a duck in the first innings of this match, even as Rahane made a hundred.

However, on the final day of the match, Pujara played freely and found the fence at will while maintaining a strike rate of over 100, something very rare when it comes to the man from Rajkot, who is known for his solid defensive game.

In all, Pujara struck 16 fours and a six during his stay in the middle.

Wicketkeeper-opener Snell Patel (98) missed out on a century by just two runs, out caught by Shams Mulani off the bowling of experienced seamer Dhawal Kulkarni.

Patel’s opener partner, Harvik Desai made 62 as the duo added 163 runs for the first wicket in a much-improved batting effort.

Pujara added 101 runs for the fourth wicket with Vishvaraj Jadeja, whose contribution in the partnership was 16.

Mumbai had made 544 for seven declared in their first innings and then enforced follow-on on Saurashtra after bowling them out for 220.

Brief scores:

Mumbai: 544/7 declared

Saurashtra: 220 and 372/9 in 116 overs (Snell Patel 98, Cheteshwar Pujara 91; Shams Mulani 7/114).

Bengal win after a superb fightback

All-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed and debutant wicketkeeper Abhishek Porel struck unbeaten fifties as Bengal bounced back after their first-innings debacle to secure a dramatic four-wicket win over Baroda in their Ranji Trophy Group B opener in Cuttack on Sunday.

Chasing 349 on the fourth day after being shot out for a paltry 88 in the first innings, Bengal rode on the duo of Ahmed and Porel, who stitched an unbroken 108-run partnership for the seventh wicket to steer their team home.

Resuming on 146/2, Bengal received an early jolt when skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran got out without any addition to his overnight total of 79 in the fourth ball of the day.

There were familiar jitters in the middle with Bengal losing three quick wickets including the duo of Sudip Chatterjee (18) and overnight batter Anustup Majumdar (33) in the space of four balls to be 176/5.

Medium pacer Abhimanyusingh Rajput (3/73) revived Baroda’s hopes with the double blow.

But Bengal’s deputy sports minister and former skipper Manoj Tiwary, who made a return to cricket after his foray into politics last year, arrested the slide with a fighting 37 from 61 balls before becoming Rajput’s third victim.

Tottering at 242/6, Bengal unearthed a future star in the 19-year-old Abhishek, who showed utmost maturity and matched his senior partner, Shahbaz.

Abhishek hit seven boundaries en route to his maiden fifty. Shahbaz also hit an identical seven fours – all through the off-side region – as the pair sealed the issue in 91.3 overs.

“It feels incredible. Wanted to start well for the senior team and as always it feels great to win for Bengal. There was some pressure but teammates, seniors helped a lot, and advised to play my normal game.

“Shahbaz da (brother) guided me while we were batting on the wicket. I played according to our plan and played my normal game,” Abhishek said about his dream debut.

Bengal skipper Easwaran praised both the batters and bowlers for the remarkable comeback.

“Every player has contributed to the cause, as the batters have shown character the bowlers have done commendable jobs too,” Abhimanyu said.

“It’s about believing in the hard work that we have put in. The best part is even when we had 349 runs to chase, every single member of the team believed that we can do the job.

“Shahbaz has batted with a lot of responsibility, special mention to Abhishek Porel- the character he showed, the attitude he was batting with was great to watch,” the skipper added.

Cricket Association of Bengal president Avishek Dalmiya and secretary Snehasish Ganguly congratulated the team after the win.

Brief scores:

At Barabati Stadium: Baroda 181 and 255. Bengal 88 and 350/6; 91.3 overs (Abhimanyu Easwaran 79, Shahbaz Ahmed 71 not out, Abhishek Porel 53 not out; Abhimanyusingh Rajput 3/73). Bengal won by four wickets. Points: Bengal 4, Baroda 0.

At Vilas Cricket Ground: Hyderabad 347 and 269/8 declared. Chandigarh 216 and 183; 50.5 overs (Arslan Khan 68; Ravi Teja 6/41). Hyderabad won by 217 runs. Points: Hyderabad 6, Chandigarh 0.

Group A

Kerala 1 1 0 7
Madhya Pradesh 1 1 0 6
Gujarat 1 0 1 0
Meghalaya 1 0 1 0

Group B

Hyderabad 1 1 0 6
Bengal 1 1 0 6
Baroda 1 0 1 0
Chandigarh 1 0 1 0

Group C

J & K 1 1 0 6
Karnataka 1 0 0 3
Railways 1 0 0 1
Pondicherry 1 0 1 0

Group D

Mumbai 1 0 0 3
Odisha 1 0 0 3
Goa 1 0 0 1
Saurashtra 1 0 0 1

Group E

Uttarakhand 1 1 0 6
Rajasthan 1 1 0 6
Andhra 1 0 1 0
Services 1 0 1 0

Group F

Haryana 1 0 0 3
Punjab 1 0 0 3
Himachal Pradesh 1 0 0 1
Tripura 1 0 0 1

Group G

Maharashtra 1 1 0 7
Vidarbha 1 0 0 3
Uttar Pradesh 1 0 0 1
Assam 1 0 1 0

Group H

Chhattisgarh 1 1 0 6
Tamil Nadu 1 0 0 3
Delhi 1 0 0 1
Jharkhand 1 0 1 0

Plate Group

Manipur 1 1 0 7
Nagaland 1 1 0 6
Bihar 1 0 0 3
Mizoram 1 0 0 1
Sikkim 1 0 1 0
Arunachal Pradesh 1 0 1 0

First-Round results:

Kerala vs Meghalaya, Elite Group A (Rajkot): Kerala won by an innings and 166 runs
Gujarat vs Madhya Pradesh, Elite Group A (Rajkot): Madhya Pradesh won by 106 runs

Hyderabad vs Chandigarh, Elite Group B (Bhubaneswar): Hyderabad won by 217 runs
Bengal vs Baroda, Elite Group B (Cuttack): Bengal won by 4 wickets

Karnataka vs Railways, Elite Group C (Chennai): Match drawn, Karnataka took first innings lead
Jammu and Kashmir vs Puducherry, Elite Group C (Chennai): J & K won by 8 wickets

Saurashtra vs Mumbai, Elite Group D (Ahmedabad): Match drawn, Mumbai took first innings lead
Odisha vs Goa, Elite Group D (Ahmedabad): Match drawn, Odisha took first innings lead

Services vs Uttarakhand, Elite Group E (Thiruvananthapuram): Uttarakhand won by 9 wickets
Andhra vs Rajasthan, Elite Group E (Thiruvananthapuram): Rajasthan won by 158 runs

Haryana vs Tripura, Elite Group F (Delhi): Match drawn, Haryana took first innings lead
Punjab vs Himachal Pradesh, Elite Group F (Delhi): Match drawn, Punjab took first innings lead

Maharashtra vs Assam, Elite Group G (Rohtak): Maharashtra won by an innings & 7 runs
Vidarbha vs Uttar Pradesh, Elite Group G (Gurugram): Match drawn, Vidarbha took first innings lead

Jharkhand vs Chhattisgarh, Elite Group H (Guwahati): Chhattisgarh won by 8 wickets
Delhi vs Tamil Nadu, Elite Group H (Guwahati): Match drawn, Tamil Nadu took first innings lead

Manipur vs Arunachal Pradesh, Plate (Kolkata): Manipur won by an innings and 25 Runs
Nagaland vs Sikkim, Plate (Kolkata): Nagaland won by 6 wickets
Bihar vs Mizoram, Plate (Kolkata): Match drawn, Bihar took first innings lead

Tables and results courtesy: bcci.tv. Detailed scores available here.

With PTI inputs for reports