Ranji semifinal: Ojha leads MP reply

Mumbai's seamers bowled with control and accuracy to test Madhya Pradesh, but dropped catches hurt the team, on the second day of the Ranji Trophy semifinal. A revival brought about by an unbeaten half-century by Naman Ojha has disallowed the contest to tilt in Mumbai's direction.

Naman Ojha struck 11 fours in his responsible knock of 79 not out for Madhya Pradesh.   -  V. Ganesan

Balwinder Sandhu took two valuable wickets of Jalaj Saxena and Harpreet Singh.   -  V. Ganesan

Control is the key in any form of game. The manner Mumbai seamers kept their bowling tight from both ends was in sharp contrast to their Madhya Pradesh counterparts, who provided width and room on a surface conducive to their bowling. Crucially, the ball was kept close to off-stump.

>Scorecard

But then, probing seam and swing bowling has to be backed by sound slip catching. It is here that Mumbai slipped, when Naman Ojha (on 11) was reprieved at first slip by substitute Nikhil Patil off support paceman Abhishek Nayar.

Ojha (79, batting, 182b, 11x4) made Mumbai pay for the lapse, guiding his side to 197 for five at stumps. Earlier, Mumbai had been dismissed for 371 with paceman Chandrakant Sakure, impressive one moment and erratic the next, scalping five.

The resolute Ohja has a two-eyed stance but does get into a good side-on position as he meets the ball. The right-hander was patient, got behind the line, and, but for the early lapse in concentration, displayed sound judgment around off.

Madhya Pradesh hang in

Comfortable off his back foot, he timed his cover-drives and punches off a high back-lift. Ojha also worked the ball around and showed exemplary patience before gradually accelerating the pace of scoring.

Ojha’s unbeaten 60-run association with a determined Ankit Dane (27 batting) for the sixth wicket enabled Madhya Pradesh claw back into the contest. Dane, however, was dropped late in the day by Mumbai wicketkeeper Aditya Tare off the luckless Nayar.

Earlier, Harpreet Singh (on one) was grassed by Shreyas Iyer at first slip off the lively Badre Alam. Shreyas hurt the middle finger of his left hand in the process and had to leave the field. Harpreet made a handy 37 before being held at gully off swing bowler Balwinder Sandhu. Sandhu gets his fingers behind the ball, employs his wrists, and has a nice side-on release. He does swing the ball.

The skiddy Alam generated some pace with his quick-arm action. Abhishek Nayar, a wily customer, chipped away around the off-stump, taking the ball away, bringing the odd delivery in. Left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdullah played his part in chipping away at the opposition, too, consuming Rajat Patidar on the sweep.