There are numerous occasions when teams entering a game without the baggage of expectations end up not only playing well, but delivering performances that leave their opponents scurrying for cover. Jharkhand are doing precisely that against a fancied Mumbai outfit at the Wankhede Stadium in their Ranji Trophy encounter and are edging ahead in the race, to at least take the first innings lead.
The hosts were battling with their backs to the wall on 210-5 at close of Day Two with Hiken Shah batting on 46 (93 balls, 136 min, 5x4) alongside Suryakumar Yadav 49 (92 balls, 128 min, 7x4). The duo put on 96 runs for the sixth wicket and Mumbai’s progress in this game rests largely on their shoulders from here. Abhishek Nayar & Co are still 141 runs behind Jharkhand’s first innings total of 351.
The visitors sit at the bottom of Group ‘A’ with only three points while their opponents lead the table with 19, but these statistics were thrown out of the window when paceman Varun Aaron marked his run up against opener Sushant Marathe. The batsman who had won his place in the XI after opener Kaustubh Pawar’s exclusion was bowled off the second ball of the first over, and the pace at which the delivery arrived may surely have provided a wake-up call to the batsmen in the pavilion.
With this scalp, Aaron who has returned to the fold after a long battle with injuries, only seemed to be warming up for bigger conquests. It was not long before he accounted for the vastly experienced Wasim Jaffer in the ninth over when the stylish right-hander mistimed a cut only to land the ball in the hands of wicketkeeper Pappu Singh for one.
Thereafter, it was a grind for Mumbai, and a couple of poor strokes by Siddhesh Lad (16 runs, 3x4) and the in-form Aditya Tare (67 runs, 11x4) compounded the problems. Saurabh Tiwary, meanwhile, was the man responsible for Jharkhand’s respectable total of 351, and he was at his aggressive best, managing a career-best knock of 238. His innings included 26 boundaries and 12 sixes.
Lanky medium pacer Akbar Khan, who has had a forgettable outing so far, was at the receiving end of Tiwary’s onslaught in the first over of the morning when he was struck for four boundaries and a six. Tiwary drove the first ball though extra cover, followed it up with a boundary through mid wicket.
The third ball was driven straight to the ropes, the fifth ball was hit over deep midwicket and he ended Akbar’s agony with another straight drive for
four. This certainly was not the way Mumbai would have liked to start their day, but it was just the continuation of a sudden slump that had gripped them after the tea session on Friday evening.
Brief scores: Mumbai 210-5 (A Tare 67, S Yadav 49*) trail Jharkhand 351 (S Tiwary 238, Javed Khan 4-79, V Dabholkar 4-81) by 141 runs