Manpreet Juneja during Delhi Daredevils © IANS
Manpreet Juneja during Delhi Daredevils © IANS

Indore: Gujarat had a great day in office on the first day of the Ranji Trophy 2016-17 final against Mumbai, as they folded their neighbours for a modest 228 runs in their first innings, and though the side has relied on individual brilliance in the campaign thus far, it was a collective team effort on Day One of the final here at Holkar Stadium, Indore. Bowlers hunted in a pack, fielders were brilliant and thus, a complete team effort showed on the field, which saw Mumbai fold up for 228. Veteran pacer RP Singh took 2 wickets, so did the three-match old Chintan Gaja and bespectacled Rujul Bhatt. There were two run outs too in the innings and the architect of one of those, Manpreet Juneja spoke to the media after the day’s play.

Commenting on how the day panned out for Gujarat, Manpreet said, “It’s a decent start. We had some help from the wicket so I’m glad we could make use of it.” When being asked about the two run outs — one of which, the crucial Prithvi Shaw run out, he affected — Manpreet said, “That’s something we have been working on as a unit, to work on our fielding, and I am glad on the day that it mattered, we got a couple of run-outs,” before quickly praising the catch by Bhargav Merai in the slip.

Mumbai were going good at lunch, with the score reading 97 for 2. But things went downhill for them second session onwards — a time usually considered good for batting in India in a First-Class match. Manpreet was all praise for Gujarat bowlers for the turnaround. He did acknowledge Mumbai’s effort upfront though. “I think they batted well in the first session. The wicket was helpful for the bowlers as it was seaming around a bit. So I think they did bat well in the first session. But we stuck to our plan of bowling in one areas, making them score in one side of the wicket and not both and kept patience,” said Manpreet before going on to praise RP Singh.

“He has been magnificent. In fact, he has been leading from the front. Rush [Kalaria] has been doing a great job as well. The thing with having a person like RP in the team is that it is very good the youngsters, as they get good guidance as to they can adapt to the situations and on different wickets. He is always there on the mid-on or mid-off guiding the bowlers. He has done a terrific job for us and our young bowlers especially.”

Juneja also praised the effort of young Chintan Gaja, who replaced Jasprit Bumrah for the summit clash, saying he is someone who has done good in junior cricket as well. He also hailed Gaja’s patience and his consistency, as the bowler kept bowling on and outside off stump throughout the day.

Commenting on the nature of track, Manpreet said, “There was life throughout in the wicket. But obviously knowing the nature of red wickets, we know it will get better to bat as the game progresses, followed by bit of turn on end of fourth day and fifth day.”

On his team’s plans on Day Two, Manpreet said they will take it one session at a time.

“We don’t like to plan forward or go with an entire day’s plan. Things may go in your favour or may not go in your favour, so it is better to take in short areas and work on it,” he signed off.