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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Ranji Trophy: Prithvi Shaw shows shades of Little Master

Mumbai opener’s cameo of 66 from 62 balls against Baroda on Day One of the Ranji season triggers comparisons with Tendulkar.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Vadodara | Updated: December 10, 2019 8:48:24 am
Ranji Trophy, Ranji Trophy Mumbai vs Baroda, Ajinkya Rahane, Ajinkya Rahane ranji, Prithvi Shaw, Prithvi Shaw Ranji Trophy, indian express Mumbai made 362 for eight on Day One of their Group B Ranji Trophy fixture against Baroda on Monday. (Express photo by Bhupendra Rana)

Prithvi Shaw just couldn’t do anything. His feet were locked in the crease, pre-committed, unbalanced and out of position to tackle a cracking nip-backer. The ball seamed in sharply, threaded through the gap between his legs to take the bails with it. One of those deliveries that Shaw would want to forget soon and one that Abhimanyu Singh will treasure forever.

Until that moment, Shaw’s return to red-ball cricket couldn’t have been better. Sublime touch, graceful cover drives and the ability to ping gaps made him a tough batsman to bowl to. Watching in the side-lines was former India wicketkeeper Kiran More, who couldn’t help himself comparing the style to Sachin Tendulkar. Shaw’s team-mate Shardul Thakur too raved about his ability to pick bowlers’ lengths early.

On what was a mixed day for Mumbai — it was due to the 108-run partnership for the eight wicket between Shams Mulani and Shardul Thakur that lifted them to 362 for 8 — it was Shaw who ensured that they sped off to a quick start. The runs kept flowing as Shaw seemed intent on reminding people his shot-making talent.

By the time Baroda got the first breakthrough of Jay Bista, castled by Abhimanyu, Mumbai has run away to a fiery start: 74 from a mere 9.5 overs. Baroda called Bharghav Bhatt, their most experienced left-handed spinner but Shaw didn’t spare him either. He slugged one six and creamed two elegant cover drives to go past the fifty mark. It was then that Abhimanyu produced a cracker to take him out. Shaw’s knock of 66 had 11 fours and a six and came off 62 balls, and though it gave his team a good start, he must be ruing the missed chance of making a real big one on his comeback game.

Middle order collapse

Shubham Ranjhane tried his best at No. 3, starting off with two feisty square cuts but on the brink of lunchbreak, he was tempted by a flighted delivery from Bhatt but missed the line completely and was stumped by the wicketkeeper Viraj Bhosale. Three balls into second session, Mumbai’s captain Suryakumar Yadav too fell, stumped. Aditya Tare looked good initially, reeling off two fours off Bhatt, but it was the left-arm spinner who had the last laugh as he was caught in slips by Kedar Devdhar, trying to drive. Mumbai kept losing wickets but Ajinkya Rahane provided some resistance.

Rahane showed his class, played in the ‘V’ — Of the ten fours he hammered, three rushed past the bowler. The pitch offered some turn and bounce but Rahane used his crease effectively. Bhatt tried to vary his lengths but Rahane wasn’t premeditated in offense. He slammed two fours off Bhatt and put away Abhimanyu as well.

It was left to the veteran Yusuf Pathan, who managed to lure Rahane into edging one to slips and got Baroda back in the game. But Mumbai’s tail wagged away with the No. 7 Shams Mulani and Shardul Thakur adding 108 for the eight wicket, which ensured Mumbai reached a score that had looked a touch doubtful.

Of the two, Thakur was more aggressive; he charged the seamer Soyeb Soparaiya for two fours before following it with a 14-run over off Abhimanyu. He hit 11 fours and a six before he top-edged Pathan to miscue a simple catch to mid-off. With Mulani unbeaten on 56, Mumbai will look to cash in more in the first couple of hours on the second day.

Brief scores: Mumbai first innings 362 for eight (Ajinkya Rahane 79, Prithvi Shaw 66, Shardul Thakur 64, Shams Mulani 56; B Bhatt 3/110) vs Baroda.

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