Maharashtra derby: Mumbai makes a strong comeback

Maharashtra finished the penultimate day’s play at 112 for five, with a lead of 191 runs.

Shivam Dube of Mumbai celebrates the dismissial of Jay Pande of Maharashtra at the MCA stadium in Pune on Saturday.   -  Vivek Bendre

The Maharashtra Derby is set for an interesting finish with pacers continuing to dictate terms on Saturday. Despite conceding a 79-run lead, Mumbai lived up to its reputation of making strong comebacks by rattling Maharashtra to leave the home team in a spot of bother.

Maharashtra finished the penultimate day’s play at 112 for five, with a lead of 191 runs. If Maharashtra has to salvage at least three points, captain Rahul Tripathi, who batted patiently to see the day off, will have to dig deep on Sunday morning along with the lower order.

It was a topsy-turvy day for both the teams as Mumbai lower order succumbed to spirited spells by debutante Ashay Palkar and veteran Samad Fallah. Stand-in captain Siddhesh Lad and Shubham Ranjane started cautiously before breaking the shackles. Ranjane drove and cut Anupam Sanklecha before Lad joined in by cutting Palkar twice in the next over.

Brief scores:
Maharashtra 352 and 112 for five in 52 overs ( Swapnil Gugale 37, Chirag Khurana 38, Rahul Tripathi (batting) 13, Shivam Dube 2-7) vs  Mumbai 273 all out in 80.5 overs ( Aditya Tare 63, Siddhesh Lad 93, Shubham Ranjane 54 not out, Samad Fallah 3-55, Ashay Palkar 4-62)

While Lad was racing towards a hundred on his captaincy debut, he was dubiously adjudged caught behind off Fallah while attempting an upper cut off a short ball. It triggered a collapse as Ranjane ran out of partners with Mumbai losing three wickets for eight runs. Ranjane then farmed strike for half an hour with last man Royston Dias, raising his fifty with a six off Bachhav over long-on to the delight of his friends and family who cheered from the stands. Palkar then drew a nick off Dias’ blade to fold Mumbai’s innings 15 minutes before lunch.

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After surviving two overs before the break, Maharashtra openers Swapnil Gugale and Chirag Khurana continued in the same vein from the first innings for the first hour after lunch. However, Shivam Malhotra, Akash Parkar and Royston Dias tightened the noose thereafter. Once the runs dried up, mistakes started to rise. Gugale, having survived a chance with Armaan Jaffer grassing one at gully off Parkar on 29, was the first to perish when Malhotra, who bowled a spirited spell, forced him to nick one to ’keeper Aditya Tare.

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Khurana and Jay Pande then dropped guard for the remaining session. Shivam Dube’s tidy spell that read 6-4-2-2, coupled with Ranjane’s exceptional catching at second slip, changed the complexion of the game in the last session. Dube first trapped Pande in front of the pitch with an incoming delivery before drawing Naushad Shaikh forward and Ranjane lunged to his left to pick a single-handed catch. Five balls later, Khurana ran out of patience and Ranjane caught him off Parkar. Dias then dismissed Rohit Motwani with a short ball to get Mumbai firmly back in the game.

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