Contrasting knocks from Shreyas Iyer (82) and Suryakumar Yadav (45*) helped Mumbai reach 208 for three at the end of the third day of the Ranji Trophy final as the defending champions extended their lead to 108 runs over Gujarat, here at the Holkar Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
It was a good start for Mumbai early on Day Three as Shardul Thakur removed Chirag Gandhi off the fifth ball of the day. With no runs added to their overnight score, Rush Kalaria and Chintan Gaja then forged a quick-fire partnership of 22 runs before Balwinder Sandhu removed Kalaria in the first over of his morning spell. The last two wickets could only add 15 more to the total as Gujarat folded up on 328.
This is the first time a team has twice taken a first-innings lead against Mumbai in a single edition of the Ranji Trophy in 10 years. The lead wasn’t a big one, but it created a psychological pressure on Aditya Tare’s boys. However, young sensation Prithvi Shaw ensured the situation didn’t stay that way for long as he blasted 44 off 34 balls. It was a delightful innings laced with eight cracking shots to the fence.
Akhil Herwadkar (16) fell cheap again and with Prithvi dismissed in the 14th over, Iyer and Yadav steadied Mumbai’s ship. Gujarat packed the off-side for the duo and kept bowling outside the off stump to lure the batsmen into playing shots through covers. However, with a number of balls landing on the sixth-seventh stump corridor, neither Yadav nor Iyer tinkered with them. The second session accounted for just 54 runs in 25 overs.
Parthiv Patel did introduce spin with Hardik Patel in the 33rd over but the slow left-arm bowler went for 11 runs, including a gigantic six over long-on. There was a slip and short-leg in place for the spinner but the negative line down the leg-side hardly built any pressure. The strikes were easily rotated and Iyer reached his fifty in style — lofting Hardik over long-on for a boundary.
Having taken 101 balls to reach the half-century mark, Iyer then shifted gears to pick up 32 off the next 35 balls before edging one to Parthiv, thus falling 18 short of a second consecutive hundred in a Ranji final. However, Suryakumar Yadav on the other end had no such intentions. His innings, which held up one end for Mumbai, allowing Prithvi and Shreyas the freedom to open their arms, included 148 dot balls; something, the team management might not be too happy about.