Given their pedigree in the Ranji Trophy, Mumbai would have experienced greater relief than joy after overcoming Gujarat by 27 runs in a must-win game in Valsad yesterday
Wasim Jaffer’s men fought with their backs to the wall for virtually the entire game and the result will definitely stand them in good stead in the remainder of the competition.
Remarkably, the defending champions found themselves in a near-similar situation in the final two league games last season. They needed at least nine points from these clashes to advance to the quarters and faced-off against Madhya Pradesh in Indore in pursuit of an elusive win.
To their credit, Mumbai had everything in control until the Madhya Pradesh batsmen decided to go after the 311-run victory target from about 80 overs. Opener Jalaj Saxena led the charge, hammering 128 runs and although both teams continued fancying their chances before Zaheer Khan (5-79) gave the visitors anupper hand, it was not before they got rid of Ishwar Chand Pandey, the last man in, that Mumbai could celebrate their seven-run victory.
Pandey, who came in with MP struggling to save the game at 267-9 launched an assault, hitting three mighty sixes which nearly pushed the eventual champions out of the tournament. What’s more Iqbal Abdulla, who did the star turn for Mumbai against Gujarat yesterday, dropped an easy catch off Pandey’s blade at mid-on when the batsman had just come to the crease. Needless to say, he was a mighty relieved man when Abhishek Nayar got rid of Pandey leading to wild celebrations.