Abdulla, Bista guide Mumbai into Ranji Trophy semis

Jharkhand coach Rajiv Kumar said that the two-month gap in the competition during which his team played only limited-overs cricket had an effect on their Ranji Trophy quarter-final performance.

Iqbal Abdulla picked up five wickets in the second innings of the Ranji quarter-final match against Jharkhand.   -  M.A. Sriram

Right from the moment Jharkhand conceded a 244-run first innings lead against Mumbai in its Ranji Trophy quarter-final match at the SDNR Wadiyar Stadium here, a defeat seemed inevitable.

However, the manner of it on Saturday morning will no doubt make the team seethe. Resuming on 28 for one, Jharkhand, steadily, inch-by-inch, got to 64 in roughly an hour’s time only to lose all its bearings in a madcap 40-minute period.

From 64 for one, it crashed to 94 all out to hand Mumbai a massive 395-run win and with it the smoothest of passages to the semi-finals where it will meet either Madhya Pradesh or Bengal.

Opener Jay Bista gave a stellar account of his secondary skill, bowling a spell of 6.4-1-16-5, and in tandem with Iqbal Abdulla, who bowled a spell of 8-2-24-4 and capped a fine all-round performance, reducing Jharkhand to rubble.

The off-spinner started the slide by scalping S.P. Gautam leg-before on 27, a price that the latter paid for playing on the back-foot when the ball was routinely keeping low. It was a folly other batsmen would commit too, most noticeably Ishank Jaggi to Bista and Kaushal Singh to Abdullah.

The 20-year old then had batting mainstay Saurabh Tiwary and skipper Shahbaz Nadeem both stumped of successive deliveries that drifted down the leg side. And when he forced Jaskaran Singh to hole out to Siddhesh Lad at long-on, he had more than made up for a not-so-good outing with the bat.

“I was concentrating on keeping it tight,” he said later. “I bowled in the right areas and the pitch did the rest.”

“There were a few patches on the wicket,” said Abdullah. “A right-hander could have batted but could have been an issue for left-hander. So credit also goes to our batsmen – Akhil [Herwadkar] and others.”

Jharkhand coach Rajiv Kumar said that the two-month gap in the competition during which his team played only limited-overs cricket had an effect.

“We were under prepared,” he said. “Also, cricket is all about partnerships. Through the season we had that either in bowling or batting. But here two bowlers got five wickets but there was no support.”

“If we were close to their first innings total it could have been different. We lost the toss too. Playing second on a difficult pitch... a few mistakes in batting. It cost us.”

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