Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Vidarbha with a foot in knockouts as Mumbai struggles

Jay Bista and Shubham Ranjane put up a 99-run stand but Mumbai ended Day 2 at 169 for six, trailing Vidarbha by 342 runs.

Mumbai's Jay Bista and Shubham Ranjane put up a 99-run stand for the fourth wicket.   -  S. Sudarshan

The Orange City may be experiencing its worst winter ever but Vidarbha continued to turn the heat on Mumbai on the second day in succession. As a result, half-way through its penultimate Ranji Trophy Elite Group A game at the VCA Stadium, defending champion Vidarbha has a foot in the knockouts. Mumbai’s mathematical chance of making it to the quarter-final has all but evaporated.

Seasoned pro Ganesh Satish failed to convert his fifth fifty of the season into a hundred in the morning, but Mohit Kale’s maiden first-class fifty ensured Vidarbha made a gargantuan 511, despite Mumbai's left-arm spinner Dhrumil Matkar achieving his first fifer.

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A combination of rash shots from the Mumbai batsmen and disciplined bowling from Vidarbha’s spin triumvirate meant Mumbai ended the second reeling at 169 for six.

Left-arm spinner Aditya Sarvate shared the new ball with Vidarbha's sole specialist pacer Rajneesh Gurbani after Vidarbha’ innings ended at the fag end of a prolonged morning session. Gurbani appeared to be more focussed on widening the rough by running onto the danger area in his follow-up. After being officially reprimanded for doing so, he was replaced with offie Akshay Wakhare.

The all-spin attack reaped rich dividends as the duo broke the back of Mumbai’s attack with three wickets in 15 balls. Leftie Vikrant Auti played Wakhare across the line, missed the ball to be adjudged leg-before; Siddhesh Lad was trapped in front of the wicket by Sarvate in the next over and Wakhare then fooled mainstay Shreyas Iyer in the flight to sneak through his defence to leave Mumbai in disarray at 31 for three.

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Jay Bista and Shubham Ranjane then played sensibly for the next couple of hours. The duo, especially Ranjane, mixed caution with aggression as he brought up his fifty with a six sailing into the top tier of the grand-stand.

However, soon after Bista crossed his fifty and a ball after Wakhare failed to hold on to a difficult return catch, Bista’s audacious (and unnecessary) heave resulted in Apoorv Wankhade running backward from mid-on and taking an impressive catch. In the lanky offie’s next over, wicketkeeper Akshay Wadkar dived to his right to pouch an inside-edge that lobbed off Ranjane to reduce Mumbai to 130 for five.

Soon after the 99-run stand between the set batsmen came to an end, Aditya Tare was dubiously adjudged leg-before moments before stumps. Shivam Dube - having already received two lives - will hope to start the New Year on a brighter note along with the Mumbai tail.

Brief Scores

At Nagpur: Vidarbha 511 in 129.4 overs (Atharva Taide 95, Wasim Jaffer 178, Ganesh Satish 90, Mohit Kale 68, Dhrumil Matkar five for 141) vs Mumbai 169 for six in 50 overs (Jay Bista 64, Shubham Ranjane 52, Akshay Wakhare four for 55).
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