Final evenly poised

Cricket Ranji Trophy : Nayar's 91 leaves Gujarat with a tricky chase of 312

Final evenly poised

 High-pressure situations have often brought the best out of Abhishek Nayar in this edition of the Ranji Trophy. On the fourth day of the final, Mumbai once again needed their most experienced player in the side to bail them out of a precarious position.

Walking in to bat with Mumbai at 270 for five, ahead of Gujarat by just 170 runs, Nayar produced a brilliant knock of 91 (240m, 146b, 5x4, 5x6) to steer the defending champions to 411 all out here at the Holkar Stadium on Friday. 

During his innings of great temperament and planning, the two vital partnerships he forged – first a 44-run stand with No. 10 Vishal Dabholkar and then 41 with last batsman Vijay Gohil – helped Mumbai set Gujarat a daunting target of 312 runs.

However, Gujarat’s promising response of 47 for no loss in 13.2 overs before close of play has left the game nicely poised. On the final day, Gujarat require 265 runs in 103.4 overs for a win. A draw too will help them annex their maiden Ranji title by virtue of their first innings lead.

It won’t be an easy task though for Parthiv Patel’s men though. Known to fight hard and excel on the big stage, Mumbai are expected to go all out in pursuit of their 42nd crown.

Earlier, resuming from 208/3, Mumbai lost Suryakumar Yadav (49) early but skipper Aditya Tare slammed a half-century (69) to help the lead cross the 150-run mark. Tare, who was out caught at gully off a no-ball of Chintan Gaja (6/121) and was later dropped at the same position, led his team’s charge in the first session.

Mumbai though experienced a minor slump in the post lunch session. Hardik Patel trapped Tare in front and RP Singh got the scalp of Siddhesh Lad, who pulled a short one straight to deep mid-wicket. Balwinder Sandhu and Shardul Thakur gifted their wickets away with rash shots, leaving Mumbai in trouble at 326/8.

Nayar, with only the tail-enders to bat with, then produced an innings of great responsibility. Making sure he takes most of the strike, the 33-year-old steadily took Mumbai’s lead past 250. Left-arm spinner Dabholkar (12) played perfect support to Nayar and his 103-minute stay in the crease showed his fighting spirit.

Dealing in singles in the first-half of his innings, Nayar’s fifty came in 133 balls, including four fours. Gaja dismissed Dabholkar caught at slips to break the stand and with just one wicket remaining, Nayar decided to cut-loose. He slammed part-time off-spinner Rujul Bhatt for three sixes – two over long-off and one over mid-wicket. Even the pacers weren’t spared as he struck a towering six over mid-wicket off Gaja.

Once the lead went past 300, declaration loomed over and the team management gave him just two overs to reach his ton. The left-hander completely missed a big heave to be out leg before to RP Singh.

That he scored all the runs in the 41-run stand with Gohil showed Nayar’s ability to bat with the tail. For Gujarat, Gaja, with a six-for, was the standout bowler. Despite going for runs, Gaja was rewarded for his positive approach and for bowling in the right areas.

Scoreboard

MUMBAI (I Innings): 228
GUJARAT (I Innings): 328
MUMBAI (II Innings; O/n: 208/3): Akhil Herwadkar c Gohel b Gaja 16 (48m, 33b, 1x4), Prithvi Shaw c Parthiv b Gaja 44 (69m, 35b, 8x4), Shreyas Iyer c Parthiv b Gaja 82 (240m, 137b, 9x4, 2x6), Suryakumar Yadav c Parthiv b Kalaria 49 (324m, 215b, 5x4), Aditya Tare lbw Hardik 69 (208m, 114b, 12x4), Siddhesh Lad c Gandhi b RP Singh 15 (52m, 34b, 2x4, 1x6), Abhishek Nayar lbw RP Singh 91 (240m, 146b, 5x4, 5x6), Balwinder Singh Sandhu c Juneja b Gaja 20 (44m, 42b, 3x4), Shardul Thakur c sub b Gaja 1 (8m, 6b), Vishal Dabholkar c Gohel b Gaja 12 (103m, 59b, 2x4), Vijay Gohil (not out) 0 (31m, 7b). Extras (W-7, NB-5) 12. Total (all out, 137.1 overs) 411.

Fall of wickets: 1-54 (Herwadkar), 2-66 (Shaw), 3-193 (Iyer), 4-238 (Yadav), 5-270 (Lad), 6-297 (Tare), 7-323 (Sandhu), 8-326 (Thakur), 9-370 (Dabholkar).  

Bowling: RP Singh 29.1-8-83-2, Rush Kalaria 25-11-63-1 (nb-4, w-2), Chintan Gaja 39-10-121-6 (nb-1), Bhargav Merai 6-3-16-0, Hardik Patel 28-2-89-1 (w-4), Rujul Bhatt 10-0-39-0 (w-1).

GUJARAT (II Innings): Samit Gohel (batting) 8 (60m, 35b, 1x4), Priyank Panchal (batting) 34 (60m, 45b, 7x4). Extras (LB-5) 5. Total (for no loss, 13.2 overs) 47.
Bowling: Shardul Thakur 5.2-1-17-0, Balwinder Singh Sandhu 5-1-19-0, Vijay Gohil 2-1-2-0, Abhishek Nayar 1-0-4-0.


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