Parthiv Patel is unbeaten at the crease © IANS
Parthiv Patel is unbeaten at the crease © IANS

Indore: Day Two of the Ranji Trophy 2016-17 final being played between Mumbai and Gujarat here at the Holkar Stadium here in Indore witnessed a slow start. Gujarat lost their prolific openers Priyank Panchal and Samit Gohil; both of whom had spent good time in the middle but perished after putting in the hard yards. It was Bhargav Merai (33*) and skipper Parthiv Patel (23*) who then gave the Gujarat innings some momentum and led a brief recovery of sorts by the time lunch was taken, as Gujarat’s score read 73 for 2. For Mumbai, Shardul Thakur, who bowled exceedingly well, got a wicket while Abhishek Nayar got the other one. Balwinder Singh Sandhu shared the new ball with equal distinction but had nothing to show in the wickets column.

Gujarat openers started off cautiously, with both Shardul and Sandhu bowling a probing line on and outside the off stump. The batsmen bade their time — something which has been a key ingredient of their recipe for success this season. Gujarat have followed the mantra of bat long and bat big in Ranji Trophy season this year and the two openers seemed to be following it in the summit clash as well. This can be understood by the fact that the singles were dried up and the first boundary came in the 9th over of the day, that too in the form of leg-byes.

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Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit had said after the first day’s play that the first hour on Day Two was going to be crucial for his side. His wards knew it well too, for their body language in the opening session was aggressive and it showed on the field. Young Prithvi Shaw, who had dropped Gohil in the first slip on the first ball of the Gujarat innings on Day One, was removed from the position and replaced by Siddhesh Lad. The move suggested Mumbai meant business.

Shardul and Sandhu kept testing the patience of the two Gujarat openers, who were overly defensive in their approach. The runs did not come early on, but that did not bother Panchal and Gohil, for they had built their game and Gujarat’s innings in the same fashion throughout the season. However, it did not work for them when it mattered the most. Gohil, who got a respite last evening, fell cheaply for 4. Shardul got him bowling from around the wicket. The ball just went a bit away from Gohil after pitching in at a good length, took the outside edge of his bat and went straight towards the first slip. Suryakumar Yadav, who was standing in the second slip, dived in front of Lad to complete the catch.

Mumbai got the opening they needed the most, and that only intensified their efforts on the field. Shardul was the pick of the bowlers for them, bowling tight spells throughout. He was extremely unlucky not to get more wickets. Sandhu and Nayar played their part by complimenting him well.

Merai then joined Panchal and played a few shots, thus easing up the pressure a bit. Panchal, however, continued to be defensive in his approach and ended up building pressure for himself. Eventually, he succumbed to it when Nayar got him caught behind the stumps for 6. Panchal, who has had a remarkable season and was well placed to surpass VVS Laxman’s record of 1,415 runs in a Ranji season, took 50 balls and was around for well over an hour before Nayar sent him packing.

With both the openers back in the hut on the score of 37, Mumbai were all pumped up. Rightfully thus when Gujarat skipper Parthiv walked out to bat, his opposite number Aditya Tare immediately brought his go-to man Shardul back into the attack. The latter almost had him, when a beautiful outswinger beat Parthiv completely and took an outside edge of his bat before landing into Tare’s gloves. Parthiv stood his ground as the umpires checked for a no-ball. Luckily for him, Shardul had overstepped by a fair margin.

Gujarat did not give any chance to Mumbai in the remaining time before lunch. There was a marked difference in their approach too, as Parthiv and Merai played their shots as compared to the two openers, who had adopted a snail-slow approach. The two then added some quick runs to the total with the help of 10 fours between them in the latter half of the session after a slow start. Gujarat trailed by 155 at lunch.

Brief scores:

Mumbai 228 lead Gujarat 73 for 2 (Bhargav Merai 33*, Parthiv Patel 23*; Shardul Thakur 1 for 22, Abhishek Nayar 1 for 22) by 155 runs.