Fourteen wickets tumbled on a third-day surface that continued to stay seamer-friendly, and placed the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal between Mumbai and Maharashra on a knife edge.
Sitting pretty with a lead of 122, Mumbai began its second innings half an hour before lunch but folded up for 129 in a mere three and half hours, setting Maharashtra a target of 252 to win and enter the semifinals.
After Anupam Sanklecha (four for 57), Samad Fallah (three for 45) and Shrikant Mundhe (three for 26) had scuttled the Mumbai innings, left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan struck a blow for the home team before close, prising out Chirag Khurana in his fifth over as a nervous Maharashtra finished at 28 for one.
A result is expected by tea on Saturday, and Mumbai coach Sulakshan Kulkarni maintained that the onus was on Maharashtra to score 252 runs, that his seam attack was capable of producing a miracle, and also that Zaheer Khan may be seen at his best in the first session on the fourth day.
Resuming at 219 for seven, Shrikant Mundhe and Akshay Darekar stretched the eighth wicket partnership to 73 runs before the second new ball claimed at the conclusion of the 80th over extracted the last three Maharashtra wickets in a space of 27 deliveries at low cost.
When Mumbai batted, the seamers struck twice in the first five overs raising Maharashtra’s hopes of getting back into the contest.
The twenty overs bowled in the second session yielded five wickets, effectively breaking the back of the Mumbai line-up.
There were no partnerships of note, save for brief stands involving Suryakumar Yadav, Iqbal Abdullah and Shardul Thakur, who had earlier notched up a career-best six for 86.
“We had nothing to lose. If we did not show energy, enthusiasm and look ahead in a positive frame of mind, we might as well have gone home. We were behind by a huge margin and it was a huge task to contain Mumbai,” said Sanklecha who was part of Maharashtra’s win against Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium eight years ago
“But we showed heart for a fight. There is plenty in the wicket for the seamers, and we bowled in the right areas. The bowlers get the praise, but our slip catching was fabulous too,” he said.
“It’s disappointing to be shot out for 129 after getting a lead of 122. But credit to their seamers; they stuck to the task and concentrated on channel bowling, and held great catches in the cordon,” said Kulkarni.
Mumbai — 1st innings: 402
Maharashtra — 1st innings: Harshad Khadiwale c Indulkar b Thakur 4, Rohit Motwani lbw b Thakur 0, Vijay Zol b Zaheer Khan 15, Kedar Jadhav c Tare b Dabholkar 51, Ankit Bawne c Tare b Thakur 84, Sangram Atitkar c Indulkar b Thakur 9, C. Khurana c Pawar b Javed Khan 21, Shrikant Mundhe c Tare b Thakur 38, Akshay Darekar c Tare b Thakur 36, Anupam Sanklecha c Dabholkar b Javed Khan 7, Samad Fallah (not out) 0, Extras (b-8, lb-2, nb-2, w-3) 15; Total (in 84.3 overs) 280.
Fall of wkts: 1-1, 2-18, 3-24, 4-139, 5- 161, 6-170, 7-191, 8-264, 9-280.
Mumbai bowling: Zaheer Khan 17-5-51-1, Shardul Thakur 19.3-0-86-6, Javed Khan 14-1-49-2, Abhishek Nayar 8-1-20-0, Vishal Dabholkar 17-6-58-1, Iqbal Abdulla 9-5-6-0.
Mumbai — 2nd innings: Kaustubh Pawar c Atitkar b Fallah 5, Wasim Jaffer c Khurana b Sanklecha 0, Aditya Tare c Khurana b Fallah 16, Vinit Indulkar c Motwani b Sanklecha 4, Abhishek Nayar c Khurana b Sanklecha 0, Suryakumar Yadav lbw b Mundhe 33, Iqbal Abdulla c Atitkar b Mundhe 27, Shardul Thakur c Motwani b Fallah 33, Zaheer Khan lbw b Mundhe 4, Javed Khan b Salklecha 6, Vishal Dabholkar (not out) 0, Extras (lb-1) 1; Total (in 38.1 overs) 129.
Fall of wkts: 0-1, 2-10, 3-25, 4-25, 5-29, 6-77, 7-88, 8-100, 9-115.
Maharashtra bowling: Samad Fallah 14.1-3-45-3, Anupam Sanklecha 14-3-57-4, Shrikant Mundhe 10-1-26-3.
Maharashtra — 2nd innings: Harshad Khadiwale (batting) 6, Chirag Khurana c Jaffer by Zaheer Khan 17, Extras (lb-4, nb-1) 5; Total (for one wkt. in 8.4 overs) 28.
Fall of wkt: 1-28
Mumbai bowling: Zaheer Khan 4.4.-2-5-1, Shardul Thakur 4-0-19-0.