Given the way the pendulum has swung in the first two days of the 2013-14 Ranji opener between Mumbai and Haryana at the Bansi Lal Stadium here, it’s certain that spectators are in for an exciting finish and in all likelihood the game will get over today itself.
At close of play, the hosts clung on valiantly at 224-9 and enjoy an overall lead off 222 runs. The unbeaten pair of Harshal Patel (20) and Ashish Hooda (2) were at the crease and had put on an invaluable 18 runs for the last wicket. They would be eyeing to extend the lead as much as possible in the morning today.
With the pitch proving to be a bowler’s paradise, 15 wickets fell in the three sessions yesterday. The Haryana top-order which had struggled to get going on Sunday seemed to have learnt their lessons quickly. Rahul Dewan (44) and Sunny Singh (63) looked largely untroubled during their 85-run stand for the second wicket. They showed commendable application but could not make the most of their solid starts.
Sunny in particular looked set for a big innings and handed out some punishment to the vastly experienced Zaheer Khan, hitting him for three boundaries in an over, but his exuberance was short-lived as he fell to Dhawal Kulkarni. Nevertheless, Zaheer enjoyed a fruitful outing taking 4-59 off the 19 overs that he bowled. He struck vital blows at critical junctures and ensured that the hosts did not run away with the game.
After yesterday’s performance, Zaheer will be keeping an eye on what the national selectors have in store for him when they announce the squad for the two-match series against the West Indies today. However, the surprise package of the day was leg-spinner Vishal Dabholkar who took 4-54 off 15 overs.
The rookie bowler who made his Ranji Trophy debut in the quarter-finals last season is gaining in stature with every outing, and his performance on a pace-friendly track will certainly boost his morale for the long season ahead.
Earlier, Mumbai who had looked to be in a sound position at the end of Day One, collapsed in the morning session with Joginder Sharma triggering a lower order collapse. The seam bowler maintained a disciplined line and was rewarded handsomely, finishing with 5-16 in 11 overs.
Mumbai were looking up to Ajinkya Rahane to take them to safety but the stylish batsman could not add much to his overnight tally and fell to Joginder for 51. He was trapped in front of the stumps. Sharma then moved the ball away to send Aditya Tare back to the hut. The wicket-keeper who plundered bowlers in the last season was gone for a duck. Mumbai folded up for 136 in just under an hour’s play with Harshal Patel claiming the last two wickets.
Haryana 132 and 224-9 (Sunny Singh 63; Jayant Yadav 45; Rahul Dewan 44; Zaheer Khan 4-59 and Vishal Dabholkar 4-54) lead Mumbai 136 ( A Rahane 51; Joginder Sharma 5-16) by 222 runs.
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