For a change, Mumbai’s batsmen appeared clueless and faltered against the pace and craft of left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat and off-spinner Jayant Yadav, and folded up for 182 by tea time in its second innings of the Irani Cup at the Brabourne Stadium on Wednesday. Set a stiff fourth innings target of 480, Rest of India put up a courageous show and finished the fourth day at 100 for the loss of Sikar Bharat’s wicket and looking at an uphill task of making 380 on the fifth and last day of the match.
The story of the day was Mumbai’s inability to come to terms with difficult circumstances so remarkably created by a RoI attack that was actually handicapped by the absence of the injured Ankit Rajpoot. Mumbai’s meagre collection was a little under one-third of what it had amassed in the first innings. Only Suryakumar Yadav and Siddhesh Lad demonstrated the composure to stem the rot that had set in after the departure of Shreyas Iyer, and after umpire Virender Sharma gave a wrong decision against Jay Bista.
The bowler and wicketkeeper appealed only as an afterthought and the slip fielder did not bat an eyelid. But a convinced Sharma raised the finger for the disappointed young batsman to shake his head in disapproval while finding his way back to the Patiala dressing room of the Cricket Club of India. Bista looked to be in ominous form, driving and cutting imperiously, and the slow motion replays confirmed that his bat was far away from the ball.
Mumbai began the fourth day by losing Iyer for a duck for the first time in 26 first-class matches. His dismissal in the sixth ball of the day, when he flicked Unadkat to Bharat to midwicket, put the home team on the backfoot, although it had the cushion of a first innings lead of 297 runs. In the event, the 54-run stand for the fifth-wicket between Yadav and Lad rescued Mumbai from dismal 62 for 4, after skipper Aditya Tare had fallen to medium-pacer Krishna Das.
It was a case of sheer bad luck that resulted in the exit of Yadav (128m, 76b, 49, 7 x 4s). More often than not, the right hander employed the sweep shot without the risk of top edging to the fielder behind square. But when he was just one run short of completing a half-century, his sweep shot off Yadav rebounded of his boot towards the slip fielder in substitute Ian Dev Singh. Lad (60, 151m, 109b, 6 x 4s, 1 x 6) impressed while scoring a half-century and also showed the resources to deal with the turning ball, but he was beaten hollow when a ball turned and jumped to travel to the leg trap fielder via the face of the right hander’s bat.
Saurashtra’s Unadkat impressed with fiery spells, eventually claiming three wickets, and offspinner Yadav bowled 24 good overs, exploited a spot, scalped four batsmen and demanded more such big match opportunities from the selectors. Unadkat and Yadav’s excellent work with the ball was easily the main highlight on the fourth day.