Ranji: Mumbai close in on another final

Chasing an improbable 571 for victory, Madhya Pradesh was 99 for two, going into the fifth day of the Ranji Trophy semi-final. The only point of interest on the final day would be whether Mumbai achieves an outright win.

Mumbai batsman Suryakumar Yadav in action during the Ranji Trophy cricket championship   -  M. A. Sriram

The lush green DRIEMS ground, circled by plants and trees, makes for a rather bright viewing. And the breeze does soothe one’s senses.

For the Madhya Pradesh team though, the scenario, despite the pleasant backdrop and the cool air, would have been dark, grim and without hope.

Chasing an improbable 571 for victory, the side was 99 for two, going into the fifth day of the Ranji Trophy semi-final. The only point of interest on the final day would be whether Mumbai achieves an outright win.

>Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Jalaj Saxena (25), wandering out of his crease, was nailed by a direct Akhil Herwadkar throw from gully. Then, Rajat Patidar (4) fell to a delivery of some pace, movement and carry from Shardul Thakur. Opener Aditya Shrivatsava, who struck the ball cleanly in front of the wicket, was not out on a fluent 53 (102b, 9x4).

Earlier, the 217-run fourth-wicket partnership in 344 deliveries between Suryakumar Yadav (115, 199b, 20x4, 1x6) and Aditya Tare (109, 199b, 16x4, 1x6) effectively shut the door on a Madhya Pradesh comeback.

Madhya Pradesh bowled much better on the fourth day. The length was good, pitching the balls in the right area and the line was tighter.

Mumbai, playing time and batting the opponent out of the contest, was more subdued as well. The side made 141 runs in 55.1 overs on day four while losing seven wickets.

Suryakumar completed his century but fell to a telling away seamer from Puneet Datey. The paceman showed good promise with his height, high-arm action and the ability to nip off the track. Where he needs to work on perhaps is to target the top of off-stump on a more consistent basis.

Like Suryakumar, Tare too reached the three-figure mark. Light-footed, he jumped out to easily tidy off-spinner Jalaj Saxena to the sight-screen for a maximum and complete his hundred. The skipper, though, was prised out by a gentle outswinger from Harpreet Singh.

Siddhesh Lad was snared outside off by Ishwar Pandey. The seamer struggled to get into a rhythm which adversely impacted other aspects of his bowling. Later, Madhya Pradesh coach Harvinder Singh Sodhi revealed Pandey had braved a “fever” to play the game.

Nayar held the lower half of the Mumbai batting together with typical determination. The southpaw has a crouching stance, a high back-lift and does not make an attractive viewing at the crease. But he works the ball around intelligently, can cut powerfully if the length is lacking and has the ability launch into those big drives. The left-hander remained unbeaten with 73 (130b, 12x4, 1x6).

As the match enters the fifth day, Madhya Pradesh will rue its missed opportunities. Coach Harvinder said Shreyas Iyer’s blistering first innings 90 was the difference between the two sides.

It was there that the momentum shifted. Mumbai never looked back.