Rush Kalaria has picked up just one wicket in this match so far    Getty Images
Rush Kalaria has picked up just one wicket in this match so far Getty Images (File Photo)

Indore: Day Three of the Ranji Trophy 2016-17 final being played between Mumbai and Gujarat here at the Holkar Stadium in Indore witnessed Mumbai overtaking Gujarat for the first time in the match. The first two days clearly went to Gujarat, as they bowled out the defending champions for 228 on the first day. The second day, barring the first session and to some extent, the final one, was again dominated by Gujarat as they took a lead of 63 runs with 4 wickets in hand. With Chirag Gandhi and Rush Kalaria unbeaten on the second day, they must have hoped to stretch their lead well beyond 100 on the third day. But a fantastic spell of fast bowling by Shardul Thakur and Balwinder Singh Sandhu restricted their lead to 100.

Gujarat must also have expected Mumbai to be under the pump after trailing by 100 runs. But Prithvi Shaw s blazing start pegged them back instead. What followed was a continued spell of fast bowling well outside the off stump which many felt was a defensive tactic on Gujarat s part to Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav after the openers fell. The same ploy was employed by left-arm spinner Hardik Patel too, who kept bowling to the Mumbai batsmen outside the leg stump from over the wicket. However, after the day s play, Gujarat pacer Kalaria defended his side s defensive tactics, calling the Mumbai batsmen defensive instead.

Full Cricket Updates: Mumbai vs Gujarat, Ranji Trophy 2016-17 Final, Day 3

I don t think so [regarding bowling outside the off stump continuously]. We bowled on the fourth-fifth stump line. Mumbai batsmen were in fact a tad defensive after losing two early wickets and leaving deliveries outside off. Our bowlers did not bowl a wrong line, said Kalaria. Commenting on the state of the match after Day Three, Kalaria said it is even-stevens and both sides have equal chance.

The match is evenly poised at the moment. The first session on Day Four is going to be crucial, as the bowlers have got assistance in the morning session so far. There is moisture in the wicket in the morning and the ball does a bit, so we will look to exploit it and pick a couple of early wickets. It will help us, the pacer said.

Commenting on the nature of wicket, Kalaria said it has favoured both bowlers as well as batsmen so far. The wicket gives advantage to the bowlers early on, but once the batsmen are set, it helps them. It has become a bit slower as the game has progressed, but on the whole it has remained the same for both bowlers and batsmen, he said.

READ: Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav s fighting knocks keep Mumbai ahead

Apart from not getting too many wickets, Gujarat also faced setback in the form of injuries to their players Hardik Patel and Bhargav Merai. While Hardik suffered from cramps just before starting an over, Merai was hit by the ball while fielding at point. Both the players were forced to leave the field. But thankfully for Gujarat, the injuries are not serious. Nothing to worry about the injuries, as both are fine and will take field tomorrow, Kalaria said.

Injuries will be the last thing Gujarat would need at the moment. Kalaria might feel the match is evenly poised, but Mumbai are slightly ahead at the moment. Suryakumar is going pretty strong along with skipper Aditya Tare. Moreover, Siddhesh Lad and Abhishek Nayar are yet to bat. In such scenario, if Gujarat have to fight their way back on Day Four, they will need a fit playing XI to take on the mighty Mumbai team to keep their title hopes alive.