Mumbai, a 39-time winner of the Ranji Trophy, may have just got a whiff of its 40th after an action-packed first day’s play of the Ranji Trophy final here on Saturday. The champion team shot out Saurashtra for 148 and has a vice-like grip on the contest.
Opting to field with three seamers, Mumbai quickly removed a nervous Sagar Jogiyani off the ninth ball of the match and then dismissed four more batsmen by the first interval of the day.
Without doubt Saurashtra was not adequately prepared to face skilful seamers on a surface that offered enough purchase by way of bounce and lateral movement.
Two batsmen put up some fight. Sitanshu Kotak put up a stout defence for two hours and eight minutes while young left-hander Aarpit Vasavada — who had scored a century against Mumbai in the league match at home — demonstrated resolve.
Vasavada stroked the ball square of the wicket, stepped out of the crease to play a few attacking shots and spent three and a half hours for his half century.
Not in top form right through the season, but who picked up his first five-wicket haul against Services in the semifinal at the Palam ground, it was Dhawal Kulkarni (4 for 24) who made it a dismal day for Saurashtra.
First he made Jogiyani step back and edge into the hands of Wasim Jaffer at second slip. He then forced Rahul Dave to react awkwardly to a short ball and lob a catch to Ankeet Chavan in the cordon.
Kulkarni ended his first spell dismissing Saurashtra’s consistent batsman of the season — Sheldon Jackson — with a beauty of a delivery that held the off- stump line, gained height and cramped the right hander. Jackson had earlier diverted a similar ball, but pitched wide of the off stump, over the cordon for a four.
Skipper Jaydev Shah shuffled the batting order, came to bat at No. 6 and straightaway whipped left arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar to Hiken Shah at short mid wicket as Saurashtra took lunch at a 51 for 5.
It did not lose a wicket in the first hour after lunch but once Abhishek Nayar broke the sixth-wicket stand between Vasavada and Kamlesh Makwana, Saurashtra’s first innings of its first final gradually declined to its second lowest score of the season — 90 in the first innings of the league match against Punjab at Mohali.
Left-arm seamer Jaydev Undakat may have been a trifle disappointed when umpire O. Nandan did not respond favourably to a first-ball appeal for leg before against Jaffer; it was the only occasion in the eight overs sent down by Saurashtra in the last hour of the day when the home team felt a little anxious as it finished at 19 for no loss.
The scores: Saurashtra — 1st innings: S. Kotak c Jaffer b Dabholkar 14, S. Jogiyani c Jaffer b Kulkarni 1, R. Dave c Chavan b Kulkarni 3, A. Vasavada c Shah b Nayar 55, S. Jackson c Tare b Kulkarni 5, J. Shah c Shah b Dabholkar 0, K. Makwana c K. Pawar b Nayar 26, S. Sanandiya b Agarkar 4, J. Unadkat (run out) 22, D. Jadeja (not out) 4, S. Trivedi c Tare b Kulkarni 2; Extras (b-4, lb-2, nb-2, w-4): 12; Total (in 75. 3 overs): 148.
Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-12, 3-36, 4-45, 5-50, 6-114, 7-115, 8-141, 9-141.
Mumbai bowling: Agarkar 16-6-33-1, Kulkarni 21.3-13-24-4, Thakur 12-2-31-0, Nayar 10-3-30-2, Dabholkar 11-3-14-2, Chavan 5-2-10-0.
Mumbai — 1st innings: W. Jaffer (batting) 11, K. Pawar (batting) 4; Extras (lb-1, nb-2, w-1): 4; Total (for no loss in 8 overs): 19.
Saurashtra bowling: Unadkat 4-2-8-0, Trivedi 4-0-10-0.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy finals