Mumbai had a scintillating Saturday in every department against Odisha, thus virtually booking itself a place in the Ranji Trophy knockouts, on the penultimate day of the league stage.
Sarfaraz Khan (165, 181b, 15x4, 2x6) and Armaan Jaffer (125, 223b, 15x4, 2x6) converted their overnight unbroken partnership into a gargantuan 277-run association for the fourth wicket. Aditya Tare (72, 115b, 5x4, 2x6) and Shams Mulani (70, 99b, 12x4) then scored breezy fifties to help Mumbai declare its first essay at 532 for nine at the Narendra Modi Stadium “B” ground.
On a pitch that had started wearing off, with Odisha facing a humongous task to wipe off 248-run deficit, left-arm spinner Shams Mulani and right-arm pacer Siddharth Raut came to the party in the last session to derail Odisha to 84 for five at stumps.
While Sarfaraz and Jaffer, who added 23 runs in no time in the morning thanks to exquisite drives and flicks to record his maiden First Class hundred, dominated the morning session, Tare and Mulani dominated the afternoon passage.
Jaffer displayed his mastery over textbook strokes, his multiple backfoot punches being the highlight of the day. Sarfaraz, meanwhile, continued to attack the spinners early on as Mumbai added more than 90 runs in the 17 overs bowled before the drinks break.
Debutant Prasant Rana accounted for both the batters with the second new ball, first trapping Jaffer leg-before before Sarfaraz chose to pull one that was slightly fuller. By then, the game was set for Mumbai with Sarfaraz having lived up to his reputation of scoring daddy hundreds.
Mulani then cut and pulled the spinners with aplomb before Tare upped the ante in the dying stages of the second session with Mumbai eyeing a declaration.
After being made to toil in the sweltering heat for more than four sessions, the Odisha batters couldn’t withstand Mumbai bowlers’ onslaught. With veteran Dhawal Kulkarni, bowling despite an injured thumb, building pressure with three successive maidens, Raut started the downfall by forcing a nick off Shantanu Mishra’s blade to Sarfaraz Khan at second slip.
Mulani then took over, taking his season’s tally to 27 with three scalps. His set-up of Rajesh Dhuper - following three balls that turned away with an arm-ball that rapped into the batter’s pads - was
Odisha promoted Anshuman Rath, the former Hong Kong captain, to open the innings. Rath played a few delightful cuts and sweeps, especially off offie Tanush Kotian, but was caught at short-leg off Mulani.