Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav showed uncharacteristic patience in the second session on Day Three of the Ranji Trophy 2016-17 final against Gujarat and helped their side get a slender lead of 20 runs. The unbroken 54-run stand between the two batsmen saw Mumbai retake lead from Gujarat. Mumbai were placed at 120 for 2 when umpires called for tea with Iyer (41*) and Suryakumar (14*) holding the fort. Their partnership has reclaimed the lead for Mumbai as the side now sits effectively at 20 for 2, having got rid of the 100-run lead. Both Iyer and Suryakumar have played innings so unlike them. The latter, especially, has been unusually slow.
After a flying start to their innings earlier in the day, where Mumbai scored 66 runs at almost 5 per over till lunch, the second session went ahead at a snail-slow pace. The two batsmen kept Gujarat bowlers at bay with their stonewalling tactics as they went on leaving the deliveries outside the off stump. Suryakumar was the slower of the two, as he played out 85 deliveries for his 14 runs at a strike rate of 16.47. Their defensive tactics worked as the Gujarat bowlers were denied any wicket in the session.
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It was understandable on Mumbai’s part, for they were under pressure after conceding a 100-run lead and finding themselves in an awkward position in the title clash. The Aditya Tare-led side, which is known for its knack of making comebacks, chose this route to recovery, with two of their most important batsmen biding their time in the middle and setting a platform.
Suryakumar in particular had played a similar knock in the semi-final against Tamil Nadu. After a slow start in the first innings, he fired 73 runs with the help of 11 fours and a six. After concentrating for long and getting well set in the middle, he would now want to get a big one here.
Iyer, on the other hand, has mixed caution with aggression. He curbed his natural instinct for long but gave a rare glimpse of aggression when he hit Hardik Patel for the first six of the innings. The ball landed on top of the press box, as the three Indian selectors — chief selector MSK Prasad, Sarandeep Singh and Jatin Paranjape — appreciated the shot from the sidelines, sitting outside the boundary rope just in front of the Chandu Sarwate stand.
Mumbai have made comebacks many a time this season when they had their backs to the wall. Knowing this, Gujarat would want to get a few wickets early on in the final session. Or else, they might end up seeing the advantage they had for long going down the drain. They have everything to worry, as after all, the real Mumbai batting is yet to begin with Tare, Siddhesh Lad and Abhishek Nayar yet to bat. Mumbai, on the other hand, will hope that these two batsmen play long and then the ones to follow continue with the same to set a commanding target for Gujarat in the final innings.
Mumbai 228 and 120 for 2 (Prithvi Shaw 44; Shreyas Iyer 41*; Chintan Gaja 2 for 31) lead Gujarat 328 by 20 runs.
A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with Criclife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed at @CricfreakTweets.