Ranji Quarterfinal: Hyderabad-Mumbai game hangs in the balance

At the end of an engrossing day’s proceedings, Hyderabad was 166 for three, still 128 adrift Mumbai’s first innings total of 294. With the two-paced wicket starting to get spinners into the game, the fate of the match still hangs in the balance with three more days’ play still to come.

Mumbai celebrates the dismissal of Hyderabad captain S.Badrinath.   -  Special Arrangement

It was a pacers’ day out on the second day of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh Cricket Stadium. While the Hyderabad’s pace triumvirate — led by left-armer C.V. Milind — wiped out Mumbai’s remaining five wickets in no time in the morning session, Abhishek Nayar kept Mumbai in the game with triple strikes.

At the end of an engrossing day’s proceedings, Hyderabad was 166 for three, still 128 adrift Mumbai’s first innings total of 294. With the two-paced wicket starting to get spinners into the game, the fate of the match still hangs in the balance with three more days’ play still to come.

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Mumbai had banked its hopes on the overnight unbeaten pair of centurion Siddhesh Lad and all-rounder Nayar to see off the early burst and build on its good work of the first evening. However, M. Ravi Kiran managed to move the ball slightly away from Lad in the third over and the batsman poked at it. Nayar and Shardul Thakur then survived the next half hour.

Milind and Mohammed Siraj broke the resistance with three wickets in a span of seven balls without a run. Milind first got a fuller ball to jag back in and rap Nayar before the wickets. In the next over, Siraj first enticed Thakur into a mistimed pull shot to complete a return catch and then bowled a yorker that beat Akshay Girap’s defence and broke the leg-stump. Milind then forced Tushar Deshpande into an edge to complete a deserving fifer.

Considering the bowler-friendly conditions that are likely to prevail all through the match, Hyderbad required a solid start. Tanmay Agarwal and P. Akshath Reddy saw off the opening spells of Thakur and Deshpande without much fuss. In the ninth over, Mumbai captain Aditya Tare brought Nayar on in place of Thakur. And the veteran didn’t take long to give a breakthrough in conditions that were tailormade for his style. He first lured right-hander Reddy into an edge to Tare in his second over. In his next over, he got the ball to move slightly away from left-hander B. Anirudh and Suryakumar Yadav took an impressive catch lunging to his left.

S. Badrinath and Agarwal then combined to stitch together an impressive association for the third wicket. While Agarwal continued to play the sheet anchor’s role to perfection, Badrinath wielded his magic, going after young left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil. The second session saw the duo add 92 runs without a wicket.

However, Mumbai turned the tide in its favour with Nayar and offie Akshay Girap bowling tight spells. While Girap kept the left-handed Agarwal in check, Nayar bowled short of length into the stumps to start asking questions of Badrinath, who was struggling with cramps in his forearms. After surviving three close leg before shouts, Badrinath finally tried to play one across the line, missed it and saw the ball crashing into the stumps to give Nayar more reason to celebrate.

Had Yadav held on to a chance offered by Agarwal off part-timer Kevin d’Almeida’s in the last over of the day, it would have given Mumbai the edge. Instead, the odds are still stacked equally for both the teams.