The intention to go on an all-out attack was pretty clear and it seems Mumbai was ready to take this gamble. After all they didn’t have a choice — to qualify for knockout stage they have to win all their games. They had just about restricted Saurashtra to 348, after the tail had wagged. Mumbai managed a first-innings lead of just 46 runs, so they needed some quick runs to put Saurashtra under any sort of pressure in the second essay. At the end of third day’s play, the lead had swelled to 221, that included the 46-run lead, and they have five wickets left.
The back room staff would have certainly taken note of all calculations, must have spoken about the risk if wickets fell early. How much they should try to achieve in the final session of third day’s play? What score they should give to chase? However, Mumbai’s response initially backfired; they lost opener Jay Bista, Vikrant Auti and captain Siddhesh Lad in quick succession. They were stumbling at 44/3, and memories of the Gujarat game would have stirred in them. They had taken first-innings lead against Gujarat but lost the match.
So, the situation was grim when Shreyas Iyer stepped up and, along with the new IPL crorepati Shivam Dube propelled Mumbai ahead. Dube was superb with his timing and stroke play. His ability to pick the length early and strike the ball clean makes him special. He slammed Dharmendrasinh Jadeja for a six to the upper stands of Wankhede and later used his wrists to whip the medium-pacer Hardik Rathod for a six over deep mid-wicket.
Next over Iyer slammed a six and four off Rathod, and Mumbai looted 74 runs from 57 balls for fourth wicket before losing Dube, who was caught at covers by Vishvarajsinh Jadeja while attempting q big hit off Jaydev Unadkat.
Iyer, though, continued with his fireworks, slamming successive fours off Chirag Jani to bring up his half-century. He celebrated it by charging Chetan Sakariya for a six over long on. Saurashtra relied heavily on their spinner Jadeja but with Mumbai going for it, it wasn’t easy for him. Iyer blasted Jadeja for hattrick of sixes. But Jadeja persisted and was rewarded when Iyer holed out in the deep, looking for the fourth big hit. Iyer’s 83 off 61 balls set the tone and kept Mumbai’s hope alive. At stumps, Mumbai were 175 for 5 with Shubham Ranjane and Aditya Tare batting on 12 and 7 respectively.
Mumbai will look to add a few more runs on the final day before asking Saurashtra to bat again. It will be interesting to see whether the visitors too will go for a win or be happy to take away one point. Earlier, Saurashtra, resuming on 213 for 5 , were all out for 348. Importantly, they batted out two sessions even though they lost overnight batsman Prerak Mankad early but the tailenders toughed it out there.
Chirag Jani came up with an impressive 85 but ran out of partners. The last three wickets managed to add 100 runs to the tally. Jani added 52 runs for the eighth wicket with his skipper Unadkat and later added 41 runs for ninth wicket with Chetan Sakariya. Jani’s sensible knock might shove out Mumbai from the tournament unless the bowlers produce a sensational effort on the final day.
Brief Scores: Mumbai 394 & 175/5 (Shreyas Iyer 83, Shivam Dube 39, Shubham Ranjane 12 not out, Aditya Tare 7 not out; J Unadkat 2/26, C Sakaria 2/38) vs Saurashtra 348 (Sheldon Jackson 95, Prerak Mankad 59, Chirag Jani 85; R. Dias 2/63).