Ranji Trophy: Siddhesh Lad puts Mumbai on the brink of a win

Riding on Lad's 117 (153b, 16x4, 1x6), Mumbai declared its second innings at 268 for nine 25 minutes before extended tea. Odisha was 93 for four at stumps.

Mumbai’s Siddhesh Lad gestures towards his teammates after scoring a century in the Ranji Trophy match against Odisha in Bhubaneswar on Friday.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Siddhesh Lad has built a reputation of being the crisis man of Mumbai's Ranji Trophy team over the last four years. The petite panther lived up to the tag yet again to help Mumbai set Odisha a gargantuan target of 413 runs in a Group C match on Friday.

All-rounder Akash Parkar's double strike towards the fag end of the penultimate day's play put Mumbai on the brink of pocketing six points.

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Riding on Lad's 117 (153b, 16x4, 1x6) – his fifth first-class hundred – Mumbai declared its second innings at 268 for nine 25 minutes before extended tea. Reeling at 93 for four at stumps, the host outfit will have a mountainous task to achieve if it has to overhaul the highest successful target in Ranji history. Even if Odisha has to earn at least a point, skipper Govinda Poddar, unbeaten on 48 at close, will have to bat out of his skin along with the lower order.

"It was important for me as well to score some runs. I knew I was batting well but I needed to score badly and I am happy it came under pressure when the team needed it."

Siddhesh Lad

MATCH REPORT:  Day 1, Day 2

When Lad strode to the middle of the KIIT Stadium in the fifth over of the third morning, nightwatchman Dhawal Kulkarni had missed an incoming ball from Suryakant Pradhan to see his middle-stump exposed. In no time, captain Aditya Tare and his deputy Suryakumar Yadav joined Kulkarni in the change room, leaving Mumbai reeling at 85 for six.

LIVE BLOG: Ranji Trophy - Round 4, Day 2

It meant that when Abhishek Nayar, the other man in need, joined him in the middle, Mumbai was ahead by 229 runs, far from being a safe target. Lad hadn't even opened his account. But ever since he connected a neat square-cut off Suryakant Pradhan just after the drinks break, Lad looked his aggressive best. The stand-out stroke of his innings was a one-bounced boundary off a pull shot off Pradhan that drew huge applause from a sizeable crowd at the ground.

Lad's dominance meant he was involved in three valuable partnerships down the order – 57 with Nayar for the seventh wicket, 76 with Parkar for the eighth and 42 with Thakur for the ninth – which took the game away from Odisha.

An over after Lad mistimed a pull shot that spooned back to Biplab Samantray, Tare declared the innings, leaving Odisha openers the awkward 25 minutes to tackle before tea.

After negotiating the pace of Dhawal Kulkarni and Shardul Thakur well, Sandeep Pattanik was inaccurately adjudged caught behind by umpire K. Srinivasan off the first ball bowled by left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil.

Poddar then delighted the home fans with his crisp drives in the company of Natraj Behera. However, Behera played Kulkarni on to the middle stump in the last hour of play. If that wasn't enough, Parkar, in his first over, first trapped Subhranshu Senapati in front of the wickets before forcing nightwatchman Deepak Behera to nick one behind the wicket to leave Odisha in disarray.