Shreyas Iyer remained unbeaten on 41 as umbai went into tea on Day 3 with a lead of 20. © Wisden India
Calm knocks from Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav after a whirlwind cameo from Prithvi Shaw left the Ranji Trophy 2016-17 final between Mumbai and Gujarat nicely poised at Holkar Stadium in Indore on Thursday (January 12).
At tea on the third day, Mumbai were 120 for 2, a slender lead of 20, with Iyer (41 in 89 balls) and Suryakumar (14 in 85) in the middle. The pair put together a 54-run stand in 161 balls, curbing their natural, aggressive style of play all along.
Mumbai’s pacers had earlier combined to keep Gujarat’s first-innings lead to 100, bowling them out for 328 in the morning session.
Mumbai had their backs to the wall at the innings break but a 35-ball 44 from Shaw set up a fightback. The 17 year old cut loose right from the beginning, playing a shot almost every ball on a pitch that was still good for batting.
Shaw, who scored a century on debut in the semifinal win over Tamil Nadu last week, unleashed his full range of strokes and found boundaries in different parts of the ground. He hit three fours in an over off Rush Kalaria, and followed it up with a nice flick off RP Singh, the former India international.
He had his share of luck too – when on 25, he sliced Chintan Gaja to third man where RP, never the most athletic of fielders, failed to put in his dive on time.
But just when it seemed like Gujarat’s advantage was slipping away, Gaja dealt a double-blow to ensure Mumbai didn’t have all the momentum. He first had Akhil Herwadkar, who edged to second slip trying to cut away from the body. Shaw followed soon, chasing and nicking a wide delivery from Gaja to Parthiv Patel behind the stumps.
Mumbai went to lunch at 66 for 2 needing a long partnership and they got just that from Iyer and Suryakumar post the interval. The two were stubborn in defence and played the waiting game, slowly taking Mumbai into the lead in the process.
While both batsmen showed extreme patience, Iyer played his shots when the chances came. He found the odd boundary with some glorious drives and also stepped out to hit Hardik Patel, the left-arm spinner, for a six over long-on.
The pair added only 54 runs from 25 overs in the second session, setting themselves up for long knocks.
In the morning, Gujarat resumed on 291 for 6 and added only 37 runs as Mumbai’s pacers made good use of the second new ball that was taken late on the second day. Shardul Thakur returned 4 for 84, while Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Abhishek Nayar picked up three wickets each.
Gujarat’s plans of building a big first-innings lead despite losing their main batsmen received a big jolt in the very first over, with Chirag Gandhi poking at an awayswinger from Thakur to second slip, where Suryakumar took a sharp, low catch.
Gaja, the No. 9, took 19 balls to get off the mark even as Kalaria took Gujarat past 300 with a couple of boundaries off Nayar. Kalaria’s knock ended when Sandhu trapped him plumb in front with an inswinger.
Finishing things off was just a matter of time after that. RP miscued to cover trying to loft Sandhu, before Thakur found the outside edge of Hardik Patel to end Gujarat’s innings.