Shreyas Iyer scored 82 on Day Three. File Photo
Shreyas Iyer scored 82 on Day Three. File Photo


Indore: Mumbai Ranji team are known for their fighting spirit. The team has a knack of staging dramatic comebacks. It is not for nothing that they are called the domestic giants. We have heard these things time and again. On Thursday, the Day Three of the Ranji Trophy 2016-17 final against Gujarat here at the Holkar Stadium in Indore, the current title holders proved the aforementioned statements right once again when the side recovered from being 66 for 2 at lunch, after trailing by 100 runs, to end the day on 208 for 3. Mumbai now lead Gujarat by 108 runs with their 7 wickets intact. With the likes of Siddhesh Lad and Abhishek Nayar yet to bat, they have, for the first time in the match, taken a position of advantage.

The heroes of their recovery were Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav. The two vital cogs of the Mumbai batting line-up stood true to their reputation after their side was in a spot of bother early on. Akhil Herwadkar had failed for the second time on his return from an injury while the teenage sensation Prithvi Shaw had perished after a breezy knock of 35-ball 44. This is when the two joined forces and stitched a 127-run partnership for the third wicket.

LIVE CRICKET UPDATES: Ranji Trophy 2016-17, Final, Day Three at Indore

The final two sessions were all about Iyer and Suryakumar. They started cautiously, leaving alone the countless balls being bowled outside the off stump region by Gujarat pacers. While Iyer mixed caution with aggression, hitting a few boundaries every now and then, Suryakumar adopted the stonewalling tactic. He went about his business in a nonchalant manner, almost being unfazed by the surroundings. The entire second session saw the two play defensively and solidly to rebuild the innings and set a foundation for a competitive target.

Iyer cut loose in the post lunch session, hitting Rush Kalaria and Bhargav Merai for few boundaries. When spin was introduced, he hit Hardik Patel for a six that landed on top of the press box in the 33rd over. Gradually the momentum shifted towards Mumbai and soon Suryakumar also got into the scoring groove. He started playing the calculated shots once he was well set.

The Gujarat bowlers toiled for long, going wicketless for 46 overs. It was, in the end, Chintan Gaja once again who got them the breakthrough. He got Iyer caught behind the wicket for a fine 82. The 22-year-old batsman, who had scored a hundred in last year s Ranji final against Saurashtra, missed out on a well-deserved hundred this time around. But he had done his job by the time he got out.

Suryakumar, who looked determined to bat through the day, kept going from the other end. Iyer was replaced by skipper Aditya Tare, who along with Suryakumar took his team to a safe position at the close of play without any further damage.

For Gujarat, Gaja took all the three wickets to fall as others struggled to find a breakthrough. Spinner Hardik was expensive, as he gave away 66 runs from his 14 overs.

Earlier, Shardul Thakur and Balwinder Singh Sandhu wiped off the Gujarat tail in the first hour of play. Mumbai thus restricted Gujarat s lead to 100 runs.

After being outplayed for most part of the match in first two days, Mumbai took the lead for the first time in the game. With Suryakumar and Tare unbeaten on Day Three and Lad, Nayar and Thakur yet to bat, they will look to get a lead at least in excess of 275 to put Gujarat under pressure in the last innings. Gujarat, on the other hand, need quick wickets on Day Four to keep their hopes of maiden title-win alive.

After the day s play ended, Mumbai showed once again they meant business. Siddhesh Lad and Sufiyan Shaikh (not in the playing XI) headed for a brief stint in the nets. While Shaikh batting in the nets does not make any difference, Lad getting some more quality practise before his turn comes to bat in the contest might make some difference.

Brief scores:

Mumbai 228 and 208 for 3 (Shreyas Iyer 82, Suryakumar Yadav 45*; Chintan Gaja 3 for 54) lead Gujarat 328 by 108 runs.