Gujarat were provided a solid hand by Parthiv Patel and Manprit Juneja on Day 2 of the Ranji Trophy Final in Indore. While the southpaw scored 90, Juneja put together 77 to his name. At stumps, the one-time finalist Gujarat were in the lead by 63 runs over the 41-time winners Mumbai.
On Day 3, though, things collapsed for Gujarat as they were easily dismissed in the morning session to take a lead of just 100 runs with Shardul Thakur making a mark.
In reply, Mumbai started strongly with Prithvi Shaw and Herwadkar before losing both and the momentum. However, Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav notched together 123 runs to get Mumbai back in a dominant position. At stumps, they were 208/3 and led by 108 runs.
STUMPS! Mumbai close Day 3 on 208/3 and lead by 108 runs. Suryakumar Yadav on 45 and Aditya Tare on 13 at the end. Chintan Gaja with all the three wickets so far in the innings. 88 runs in the final session with just Shreyas Iyer to fall. This contest now looks to be firmly in Mumbai’s grasp.
200 up for Mumbai now with 20-odd minutes to be played today. They’re in the lead by 100 runs now. Suryakumar Yadav moving towards his second fifty in this match. Aditya Tare is the new batsman in
Shreyas Iyer c Parthiv Patel b Gaja 82
Chintan Gaja celebrates emphatically and he should. That’s a big wicket and how Gujarat needed that. Pitches outside off and Iyer goes to attack it but gets the outside edge of the bat and it is taken by Parthiv Patel. 123 run partnership is broken and Mumbai are 193/3, lead by 93 runs
FOUR Shreyas Iyer lofts it away from the deep mid-wicket fielder for four. Mumbai 158 for the loss of two wickets, Iyer batting on 64 and Suryakumar batting on 27. The duo have added 93 runs for the third wicket partnership
Shreyas Iyear continues his brilliant form as he brings up his 16th first-class half-century with a four. Shreyas comes down the pitch and lofts it to long-on for a boundary. Suryakumar has added 20 runs off 117 balls.
We are back after Tea! Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyerwill continue Mumbai second innings, after increasing the lead to 20 runs before Tea.
It is Tea in Indore. Mumbai are 120/2 and lead by 20 runs. 54 runs in that session from Mumbai and no wickets lost. Suryakumar Yadav playing a very patient knock – 14 from 85 balls. Shreyas Iyer taking the charge with 41 from 89 balls.
SIX! Shreyas Iyer comes down the track and belts it over long-on for a big, big six! First big hit of the innings
Shreyas Iyer flicks it off his pads and takes a quick couple to level things in this contest. Mumbai 100/2 in the 33rd over. Iyer on 28 and Suryakumar on 10
Second session underway in Indore. Mumbai are on to 72/2 with Shreyas Iyer adding to his tally. Suryakumar Yadav yet to get off the mark after 15 balls. Trail by 28 now
That’s lunch! Mumbai go into the break at 66/2 with Shreyas Iyer on 4 and Suryakumar Yadav yet to open his account. Mumbai made a strong start but lost their way with both openers falling by the wayside. In the bowling effort, Gujarat could only add 37 runs to their lead in the morning with Shardul Thakur ending up with four wickets
Prithvi Shaw c Parthiv b Gaja 44
Gujarat have the other opener too and the well set batsman in Prithvi Shaw. Poor, poor shot. Goes after a well wide, outside the off stump delivery. It moves away late and gets a thin edge which is no problem for Parthiv Patel. Gujarat are 66/2
Herwadkar c Gohel b Gaja 16
Gujarat get the breakthrough to dismantle this top pairing. Banged in short outside the off stump by Gaja and Herwadkar goes for a cut. But doesn’t get much of the willow on it and gets an outside edge which is taken by Gohel at second slip.
Mumbai are off to a flier. They’re 53/0 after eight overs. Kalaria going for 18 runs in two overs, Gaja for 16 in as many overs. Herwadkar on 15 and Shaw on 37
Smashing start by Mumbai. Rush Kalaria smacked for three boundaries in an over – 14 runs in total – with Prithvi Shaw making merry. Drive through mid-on, cut past a deep point fielder and then a cover drive to make it a nice little trio
Mumbai get their second innings underway. Akhil Herwadkar and Prithvi Shaw open for Mumbai. RP Singh has the ball. First ball goes for two runs with a flick down to fine leg
Gujarat are bowled out for 328 and have taken a 100-run lead. Good job by the Mumbai seamers today morning. They’ve been persistent and bowled a good line and length. Made the Gujarat batsmen play and miss. Gujarat will be disappointed with how it has panned out after good progress yesterday. Shardul Thakur finishes with four wickets, three each for Balwinder Sandhu and Abhishek Nayar. But 100 run might be good enough advantage on this pitch
Hardik Patel c Tare b Thakur 1
Just short of a good length and Patel has a go at it. Gets an edge and it is back to Aditya Tare for a simple take
RP Singh c Iyer b Sandhu 8
Sandhu bowls it outside off stump and RP Singh goes after it but gets a top edge. Iyer running in from mid-off takes it. Avoids running into Shaw – the other fielder going for it
Rush Kalaria lbw Sandhu 27
Bang on the middle stump and Kalaria tried to go for a straight drive. Misses completely and it is given out without hesitation. Gujarat are 313/8
Chirag Gandhi c Yadav b Thakur 17
Great start for Mumbai on Day 3. Just the third ball of the day and Gandhi pokes at a Thakur delivery which pitched a wee outside off. Gets the outside edge and it is taken by Suryakumar at second slip. Superb start! Gujarat are 291/7
Day 3 underway in Indore. Chirag Gandhi and Rush Kalaria take the crease. Shardul Thakur has the ball. A big, big day for Gujarat. They need to do well if they are to break their Ranji Trophy duck. Mumbai, on the other hand, need a win to retain the title and make it their 42nd title.
Things didn’t go Shardul Thakur’s way on Day 2
For the second time in the day, Shardul Thakur’s celebration was cut short by the umpires. For the second time in the day, Thakur’s front-foot was under scrutiny. For the second time in the day, his eyes imploringly wandered towards the third umpire’s enclosure. For the second time in the day, his wait seemed excruciatingly long and agonising, even more agonising than the first.
Except that for the second time, unlike the first, he could resume his celebrations, which he did with the fervent spontaneity of a bowler who had sniped his fifth victim and not someone who had laboured for luck for his second. While the third umpire’s call wasn’t digested consensually — for the front-leg seemed as distant from the crease as the first instance — Thakur would simply believe that finally there was some luck winking at him.
Fast bowlers — he is of that snarling, combative type — generally harbour a feeling that they are perpetually luckless. Beneath their massive frames and gnarling visages is a grouse that they don’t get their dues.
Thakur had all the more reasons to believe in such cruel conspiring of destiny. For, despite his consistent yields, season after season on unyielding domestic surfaces, he was almost always overlooked. Such was his chagrin that when neglected for India’s limited-overs tour to Australia in January last year and then sent packing home midway through the IPL by his franchise Kings XI Punjab, he unleashed his anger through Twitter.
“Will play a semifinal t20 game tomorrow for my club payyade sc,.. playing a game after two months… ipl has done wonders.. Certainly,” he wrote sarcastically. Then again, his stars seemed inauspiciously aligned. For despite being picked for the four-Test series in the West Indies, he sat out through the entire series, then was ditched at the beginning of India’s lengthy home spell.
And now, the denial of fortune in the Ranji final. If he were lucky, he would have got a wicket off his first ball of Gujarat’s innings. It was a textbook out-swinger on off-stump, which curled away late to kiss Samit Gohel’s bat. Only for Prithvi Shaw’s sweaty fingers to fluff the chance.
But Wednesday began perfectly for him. He worked up a fine rhythm and intensity, altered lines, mixed up length, and gave Mumbai their first breakthrough of the morning through an inspired move to bowl round the stumps to the right-handed openers.
While the ploy takes out from the equation the lbw and bowled, it creates a bothersome angle for the right-handers, in that they impulsively press forward, for the fear of the ball that holds its line. Gohel was sucked into this fatal misjudgment.
He sent down two more overs to wind up a probing seven-over burst, in which he conceded just seven runs and took out one of the pillars of Gujarat’s batting. Instantly upon his return, after an eight-over breather, he thought he had consumed their most experienced batsman, Parthiv Patel.
The set-up was perfect. He worked him over with a slew of in-coming deliveries — the late-swing troubling him more than once, before slipping in the one that held its line. Parthiv, his feet stuck at the crease expecting the ball to break back into him, had a tenuous poke at the ball. Thakur burst out in elation, only for the umpire to put it on hold. Rightfully, Parthiv was called back. Thakur walked back cussing his luck.
He nearly amended his own mistake straightaway — the incoming delivery took Parthiv’s edge but it somehow squirted between his leg and the stumps. Throughout his second spell of the day — which wasn’t as disciplined as his first, the boundary balls increasing in frequency — the late movement troubled Parthiv. But a wicket wasn’t forthcoming.
Then shortly after Merai’s dismissal post lunch, Tare brought him again, and he demonstrated the same freshness and industry he had in the morning. He again switched to round the wicket, and produced an almost identical dismissal to Gohil’s. Only that the ball scudded through the gully off Manpreet Juneja’s bat. He wildly gesticulated at third slip, pleading him to dive. In fairness, the slips-man could have done little to pouch it. Four balls later, there again was another streaky boundary by Juneja. This time, his face was emotionless, for he was convinced the stars were not allying him.
Such a feeling can leave the bowler punctured. Maybe that accounted for the profligacy that marked his bowling from thereon. His first 13 overs cost him 22 runs. The next 10 leaked 45 runs.
Perhaps, that’s when he missed Dhawal Kulkarni, the calm antithesis to his hyper-energetic self, someone to mollycoddle him. Together, they had engineered Mumbai’s 41st title. By the time his poise was restored, when Juneja perished, he had little energy left in him to make an impact. And if Mumbai are to add one more to the tally this season, they would require Thakur to bowl as he had in the morning and not as limp as in the last session.
Day 2 RECAP: Gujarat allow themselves to dream
Rujul Bhatt nearly tumbled over. His balance was in utter mess. But his timing and placement weren’t. The closed face of his bat destined the ball through the sun-dried grass past the fine-leg fence. A peel of warm applause from the Gujarat dressing room pierced the still air.
From the dusty yellow seats, bookended by the Colonel CK Nayudu Pavilion and Captain Mushtaq Ali Pavilion, almost tangentially above the sight screen, a lone off-white flag inked with Gujarat in bold fluttered lazily. The digits of the scorecard stopped at 231. Gujarat had just obliterated Mumbai’s first innings total, another significant stride towards pulling off the biggest coup in their cricketing history.
Those runs offer them an insurance — if the match meanders into a draw, there is a lurking hunch that it wouldn’t – Parthiv Patel can hold aloft the glittering trophy at the flag-post of the very provincial side that had beaten them in their only final before this. But insurance, alas, doesn’t connote to certainty, especially when spoken in the context of Mumbai cricket. Agreed, the most prolific Ranji side couldn’t put on a competent first innings total, spilled catches, fielded shoddily and looked forlorn at times, but they wouldn’t be lacking in imagination that they could still snatch the title away from the clutching jaws of the opponent. They haven’t thrown in the towel as yet.
But with a 63-run cushion, Gujarat are entitled to dream, and believe they are on course. But they would, at the same, rue certain junctures of the game. Like for example, the over before Bhatt’s lead-wiping boundary, when their skipper Parthiv Patel perished after a stroke-laden 90, a fine knock of all vigour and vibrancy. In essence a typical Parthiv compilation, crunchy drives and feisty flicks juxtaposed by a few hideous swipes outside the off-stump.
The cut was perhaps the only characteristic shot that he abstained from. It was also a knock that had a brimming potential to snatch the match away from Mumbai. But Parthiv’s mind fleetingly drifted, and he walked back repenting a injudicious waft outside the off-stump. While he had looked mostly unflustered, but not impregnable, outside the off-stump, there were occasional dalliances with doom, the worst of which took his edge to the keeper, saved only by Shardul Thakur’s erring left-heel. Parthiv was 20 then, his team152 runs behind Mumbai.
Mumbai would crib this was their most unfortunate moment of the day, just as Gujarat would feel Parthiv’s dismissal was theirs. For Parthiv and Manpreet Juneja were bristling through, racking up 120 runs off 160 balls in the second session, at nearly four-and-a-half runs per over. Another 50 runs, and Mumbai would have been driven to desperation. But they couldn’t quite land the knockout punch on the face of their opponents.
Parthiv’s exit helped them crouch back on two feet. And almost invariably, it was Abhishek Nayar who furnished them with that lease of hope.
Now, while Nayar’s crouching stance can be an eyesore, his run-up can be an equally repulsive sight. It resembles a passenger train spluttering from the platform, then decelerating, as if to diverge from the track, and then picking up its slow tempo again, his bowling palm convulsing like the chunky flanges of a train’s engine. And like a passenger train, he keeps chugging away. He bowled 27 tireless overs, in which he prised out three of the top four batsmen, beat their edges and stumps multiple times, and embodied that very magnificent Mumbai never-say-die spirit.
The phrase “prise out” best describes his craft. He’s not armed with spine-chilling pace or arcane repertoire. He doesn’t as much intimidate the batsman as irritates him. It’s a deception of an understated variety. On Wednesday, he seamed the ball both ways, but movement with his speed (or the lack of it), is just another layer of entrapment. He metronomically lands the ball on off-stump or thereabouts, at a length neither cuttable nor drivable, pleading the batsman to have a fatal dab at it. In the end, it turns out to be a who-blinks-first battle between his persistence and the batsman’s patience. For most of his tenure, it was a battle Parthiv won, but finally, his impatience got the better off his restraint.
Five overs after Parthiv’s exit, came another moment Gujarat might live to repent. The unlucky Shardul Thakur nailed a man who had been riding a disproportionate amount of luck, Manpreet Juneja. His first two shots screamed through the slip cordon. Then on 15, he dollied a catch to Shreyas Iyer at mid-wicket. The ball struck his palms and flopped out of them. But lounging in generous slices of fortune and the blazing sun, Juneja scurried along, stroking a flurry of boundaries on the off-side, destined for another hundred. But he rode so much luck that luck eventually ran out on him, as he miscued a pull off a short-of-length ball against the quickest of Mumbai’s bowlers.
It seemed like both teams were hell bent on seeing who was more generous. For shortly afterwards, Aditya Tare spilled Chirag Gandhi, the last of their recognised batsman. While the 26-year-old has yet to register his maiden first-class hundreds in 21 innings, he’s a knack of churning out runs in crunch situations.
And he has with him a group of lower-order batsman who are capable of sticking around. Rush Kalaria, the left-arm seamer, has a first-class hundred to his credit and tallies a shade under 30. RP Singh can throw his bat around and Chintan Gaja, claims Juneja, is an “all-rounder”. If they can, in the company of Gandhi, stretch the lead, they could be closer to accomplishing history. Coach Vijay Patel is convinced they can. “We have great faith in our lower-order batsman, as they have struck crucial runs in the tournament,” he said.