Young Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur produced an incisive four-wicket haul after the home team’s tail wagged merrily to put the defending champions in total command of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Maharshtra in Mumbai on Thursday.
Thakur bent his back on the bouncy Wankhede wicket and produced fiery spells, backed up by a very attacking umbrella field behind the wicket on both sides, to shake up the Maharashtra batting line up after Mumbai ran up a huge first innings total of 402.
Thakur, who went into his sixth game of the season with 21 wickets under his belt, ended the day with highly impressive figures of 4 for 62 that shook up Maharashtra who were reduced to 24 for 3 before recovering to 219 for 7 at stumps on day two of the five-day game.
The visitors’ score was mainly built around the 115-run fourth wicket partnership in 146 balls between top-scorer Ankit Bawne (84) and Kedar Jadhav (51) whose dismissals within the space of half an hour post tea spelt further trouble for Maharashtra.
The batsmen holding fort at close were Shrikant Mundhe (14) and Akshay Darekar (16). Maharashtra were facing an uphill task as they were 183 runs behind the home team, with little batting left to come.
The 22-year-old Thakur, in only his second season for the 40-time champions, packed off openers Harshad Khadiwale and rival captain Rohit Motwani cheaply in the first spell of four overs to push Maharashtra on the backfoot very early.
Motwani was leg before to a swinging full toss in the bowler’s first over and then he had Khadiwale, the tournament’s highest scorer with 930 runs in eight games in the league phase, caught at gully.
Thakur then came back after tea to grab two more wickets in his third spell, including that of top-scorer Bawne, who was lucky to survive a chance in the slip cordon off his bowling on 5 and then got another reprieve after he was bowled off a no-ball by the same bowler.
Its his third haul of four wickets in only his 11th first class game.
In between these wickets, Mumbai captain and India pace spearhead Zaheer Khan took the very important wicket of Under 19 Asia Cup winning captain Vijay Zol, who looked pretty confident, and left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar sent back Jadhav, caught bat-pad behind the wicket by a diving wicket keeper Aditya Tare.
Zol’s departure put Maharashtra in deep rut before Jadhav, playing cautiously, and the more attacking Bawne produced a partnership that stemmed the rot and took the score to 139 when the former got out. Jadhav batted for 108 minutes and hit 9 fours in his 66-ball knock.
Then Bawne, despite two lucky breaks earlier in his innings, needlessly tried to try and cut a rising ball going well over his head continued…