Nayar, who scored half-centuries in both innings (62 and 73 not out) registered a mind-boggling figure of 6-13 in 19 overs with 12 maidens at an economy rate of 0.68. Yet, it wasn’t enough for the 39-time champions to record their first outright victory of the season.
Though Wriddhiman Saha, batting with the tailenders, managed to draw the game, Nayar’s right-hand medium-pace created enough trouble for the visitors, who slumped to 190-6 after being 116-1 at one stage at the Brabourne Stadium yesterday.
Mumbai took three points for the first innings lead as Bengal managed to put up 198-7 while chasing 391-run target at the close of final day’s play. Mumbai now have 10 points from four games and are third in the group behind Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.
After a dull first session where Mumbai managed to claim only one wicket (Rohan Bannerjee, 59), the second session before tea was a gripping one. Nayar, left-arm spinner Ankeet Chavan and offie Ramesh Powar completely dominated Bengal’s batsmen.
Nayar especially troubled the Bengal batters by bowling an accurate line and length. He could have bagged more wickets if a few missed chances and some umpiring errors hadn’t taken place. Saha, batting on 12, was lucky when Kshemal Waingankar dropped a sitter at long on off Nayar.
Saha battles hard
In hindsight, it turned out to be a huge miss after Saha stood like a wall between Mumbai and victory. Saha remained unbeaten on 38 off 152 balls. “In the end, you can say he (Saha) stopped us from winning the match,” Nayar said when asked about the drop catch.
“But it happens. Nobody drops a catch on purpose. Now that we are aware of our shortcomings, we will go back to the drawing board and be better prepared for the next matches.”
The Bengal wicketkeeper once again survived a vociferous appeal for a caught behind when batting on 21.
Nayar, though, surprised everyone with his bowling. “I was working hard on my bowling on the off season. I have reduced my run-up as well. Getting a few tips from Zaheer Khan (earlier in the season) also helped. Then working in the indoor academy (at the Bandra-Kurla Complex) with coach Pradeep Sundaram also benefited a lot. I am disappointed that we could not win the match, but I am happy with my bowling,” he said.
Nayar, meanwhile, might well fancy his chances of being back in the reckoning for India’s limited overs team with his good showing.