Though they have managed to dominate and quite comprehensively for that matter the most important periods of their quarterfinal clash,there has been a sense of nervous energy that has persisted in the Mumbai camp ever since they landed in Indore.
Wasim Jaffer & Co have found it difficult to completely shut out the disconcerting memories of their slip-up against underdogs Rajasthan last year at the same stage. And the anxiety has been palpable whenever Madhya Pradesh (MP) have even threatened to wrest the initiative in the match,even if only briefly.
The tensed faces were there to see on the opening day as Mumbai slipped to 60/5 in chase of the hosts first innings total of 192. And despite the 39-time champions having asserted their complete domination over the contest on the second and third days,MP had refused to give up.
With Mohnish Mishra and skipper Devendra Bundela leading the way with tons on the final day,they had also left Mumbai with a tricky run-chase at the Holkar Stadium. The furrows on the brow were back in place for Jaffer. Though a collapse still remained an almost unthinkable eventuality,49 overs were long enough for any batting line-up to suffer a slip. Thankfully for Mumbai,who finished at 113/1 in the drawn encounter,and in particular their skippers sake,Praful Waghela and the in-form Kaustubh Pawar spared their team the blushes.
And with unbeaten half-centuries the duo also ensured that Jaffer could heave a huge sigh of relief at the end of the day with Mumbai having comfortably qualified for yet another Ranji Trophy semifinal.
We all were under pressure after Day One but we knew that we still had some batting to come. Last season we had lost to Rajasthan despite having players like Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma in the mix. This time in addition to those two,we were also without the in-form Abhishek Nayar. It was a young team this time around but they showed great character for us to come up trumps, said a relaxed Jaffer.
MP,however,had the best of the final day with Mishra and Bundela keeping the Mumbai bowlers under the pump. Mishra finished unbeaten following a swashbuckling 174,which included five sixes. Bundela was equally punishing taking just 132 balls for his 101,before declaring MPs second innings on 474/3. Mumbai never looked interested in any form of risk-taking and their openers seemed intent on seeing off the new-ball. Only 15 runs were scored off the first nine overs,and the visitors did lose Onkar Gurav in the process. But there were to be no more hiccups for Mumbai,with Waghela and Pawar surviving without much discomfort.
Now having survived a potential banana-skin opponent this time around,Mumbai will not have it any easy in the semifinal where they will face a resurgent Tamil Nadu outfit.And Jaffer and his boys will only have three days to recover from their stressful visit to Indore before they welcome Lakshmipathy Balaji & Co at the Wankhede Stadium.
Brief scores: MP 192 & 474/3 decl (Mohnish Mishra 174 not out,Devendra Bundela 101 not out) vs Mumbai 434 & 113/1 (Praful Waghela 51 not out; Ishwar Pandey 1/32)