With Gujarat 44 runs behind and five wickets remaining, Mumbai’s coach Sulakshan Kulkarni has ordered his troops to go for the kill on the fourth and the final day of their last Ranji Trophy league encounter in Group A today.
After piling up 447 and gaining a handsome lead of 203 runs, the hosts did well to reduce Gujarat to 159 for five at the end of the penultimate day’s play at the DY Patil Stadium here yesterday.
Mumbai once again in the match managed to pick a wicket in the final over of the day after Rujul Bhatt was caught at midwicket off Ankeet Chavan on the last ball of the day. “We are definitely aiming for an outright win. We are in a good position and would like to get our second victory. It will certainly do a lot of good to the team’s confidence going into the quarter-final. We were struggling for victories in the whole season. So, if we get a win in this match, it will be excellent for the team,” said Kulkarni.
Mumbai’s focus was clear: To score as many runs as possible, and put Gujarat into bat for the second time in the last two sessions of the day. In 35.2 overs, Mumbai added 124 runs. Overnight batsmen Surya Kumar Yadav and Abhishek Nayar scored briskly. Gujarat’s Kushang Patel managed to break the dangerous-looking partnership after dismissing Yadav on 42 – his highest in this season so far.
Nayar, however, continued his onslaught even as wickets kept tumbling on the other end. The southpaw and tailender Dhawal Kulkarni (22) put together a quickfire 38 in 10 overs. Nayar swept Samit Gohel to reach his half-century. He remained unbeaten on 72. Rush Kalaria and Patel were the pick of the bowlers for Gujarat, claiming three wickets each while Gohel got two. It was a disappointing performance by left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhurv, Gujarat’s highest wicket-taker, who managed to dismiss Mumbai opener Kaustubh Pawar.
Gujarat lost opener Smit Patel, the 2012 U-19 World Cup star, early on in their second dig off pacer Javed. Just when a partnership between Bhargav Merai and Gohel was blooming, part-time spinner Yadav managed a breakthrough dismissing the former for 24.
Skipper Parthiv Patel continued his super form, scoring run-a-ball 47 (4x4, 1x6). The ex-India wicketkeeper was largely successful in shifting the pressure back on Mumbai bowlers, who enjoyed the upper hand till then. The plan worked well as Wasim Jaffer, manning the field in the absence of vice-captain Nayar, was forced to deploy a defensive field for Patel.
In an attempt to reduce the deficit quickly, Patel continued to bat aggressively. He, however, paid the price when a fuller one from pacer Javed Khan took the outside edge to Jaffer, who took a sharp catch at first slip as the visitors slipped further.