Ranji Trophy: Mumbai bowlers impress on last day

Despite the game ending in a draw, the young bowling unit of the 41-time champion ensured that it didn't turn out to be a dull day at The Emerald Heights International School.

Though put under pressure by the Mumbai bowlers, Naman Ojha and Ankit Sharma (not in the picture) had to repeat their first innings heroics to bail the host out of trouble and avoid the ignominy of an outright loss. (File Image)   -  Special Arrangement

With Mumbai having earned the first innings advantage, the last day's play of its Ranji Trophy opener against Madhya Pradesh was, in all likelihood, going to be a mundane affair.

Despite the game ending in a draw, the young bowling unit of the 41-time champion ensured that it didn't turn out to be a dull day at The Emerald Heights International School.

Though put under pressure by the Mumbai bowlers, Naman Ojha and Ankit Sharma had to repeat their first innings heroics to bail the host out of trouble and avoid the ignominy of an outright loss on the day coach Harvinder Sodhi celebrated his 46th birthday. As a result, both teams had something to cheer after shaking hands 23 minutes into the last hour.

MP preferred to rest its pace trio and it took part-timer Shubham Sharma to dismiss overnight unbeaten batsmen Sufiyan Shaikh and Royston Dias to end Mumbai's innings. During the 18.4 overs it batted, the tail added 25 runs to take Mumbai's total lead to 31.

With 71 overs remaining in the day, Mumbai bowlers came out all guns blazing. While Waseem Ahmed played across the line to be trapped in front by debutant Akash Parkar, his opening partner failed to clear mid-off soon afterward off left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil.

At 21 for two, Naman Ojha and Shubham played for lunch. However, in the sixth over after the break, the other debutant Minad Manjrekar made the game interesting with his twin strikes. The tall right-arm paceman first foxed Shubham to shatter his off-stump and off the next ball, bowled a perfect yorker to leave MP skipper Devendra Bundela stranded in front of the wickets.

Harpreet cautioned

To make matters worse for the host, Harpreet Singh was dubiously adjudged caught leg-before off Gohil to leave MP reeling at 66 for five. Umpire B. Sundar upheld a loud leg-before appeal to leave Harpeet stunned. Not only did he make his displeasure known to the umpire verbally but also stood his ground for a long time before trudging back to the change room.

The left-handed batsman was later officially reprimanded by match referee Manu Nayar for showing dissent at an umpire's decision.

With almost 40 overs yet to be played in the game, Ojha and Ankit staved off a collapse by stitching a vital 76-run stand. By the time Ojha edged Royston Dias, Ankit had notched up his second fifty of the game to seal the fate of the match.

BRIEF SCORES

Mumbai 440 drew with Madhya Pradesh 409 and 145/6 in 59 overs (Ankit Sharma 52, Naman Ojha 38; Manjrekar 2/33, Gohil 2/30).