The Maharashtra camp couldn’t thank Mumbai’s Kaustubh Pawar enough for dropping Vijay Zol on three, a lapse that turned out to be critical for the hosts on Day Four of the Ranji Trophy quarter-final at Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.
Zol went on to score 91 not out while his partner Kedar Jadhav slammed an unbeaten 120 as Maharashtra stunned defending champions Mumbai, bringing back memories of their last outright win at the same venue in the 2005-06 Ranji season.
Vijay Zol celebrates his half-century on Saturday. Pic/Suresh KK
Chasing a target of 252, Zol and Jadhav put up a match-winning partnership of 215 runs for the third wicket as Maharashtra comprehensively romped home with eight wickets in hand on the penultimate day to storm into the semi-final for the first time in 17 years.
Mumbai coach Sulakshan Kulkarni conceded that the catch was crucial. “Had Kaustubh taken that catch, it would have been a different story. But it happens in cricket,” Kulkarni rued.
The first hour was crucial in deciding where the game would tilt. The Mumbai pacers did well to keep up the pressure on Saturday morning. Skipper Zaheer Khan, who was successful in dismissing opener Chirag Khurana in the last over of Day Three on Friday, struck early to send back in-form batsman Harshad Khadiwale for 10.
Mumbai needed wickets to stay in the contest, but Pawar made a mess of an easy chance at point off Abhishek Nayar. Zol said he was lucky to get away. “I was fortunate that he (Pawar) dropped that catch. I was chasing balls outside off stump a lot and I had stop doing that after that. I had to be patient,” Zol told
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From there on, Zol hardly gave them a second opportunity. Jadhav and Zol batted with utmost perfection and cautiousness to ensure there were no hiccups in Maharashtra’s chase.
Zaheer tried possibly everything to unsettle the Maharashtra duo. He was seen sledging Zol after the India U-19 sensation smacked one straight down the ground. “He was trying to provoke me… distract me, but I focused harder.
I knew my responsibility. I just played my game and whenever there was a ball to hit, I did that. I did not want to prove a point to Zaheer. He is a great bowler,” Zol said.
Jadhav and Zol opened up once the 150-run mark was achieved. Jadhav slammed three sixes in the later part of his innings and in the process, completed 1000 runs in the tournament. Former India cricketer and Mumbai captain Madhav Mantri (92) later went to the Maharashtra dressing room to congratulate them for their victory.