Ranji Trophy: Mumbai rides on Bista blitz against Saurashtra

Mumbai Opener Jay Bista (127) and Vikrant Auti (57) put on a 174-run partnership which set the tone for Mumbai on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy match against Saurashtra.

Mumbai opener Jay Bista after reaching his hundred against Saurashtra.   -  Vivek Bendre

Two vital partnerships — including the first big opening stand of the season — struck off the afternoon collapse as Mumbai was placed in a commanding position against table-topper Saurashtra on the opening day of its must-win Ranji Trophy Elite Group A game.

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The right-left batting combination of Jay Bista (127, 150b, 21x4) and Vikrant Auti (57, 153b, 7x4) put on 174 for the first wicket after Mumbai was inserted by Jaydev Unadkat at the Wankhede Stadium. Despite the middle-order caving in yet again, with Mumbai losing five for 58, captain Siddhesh Lad (84 n.o., 115b, 12x4, 1x6) found an ally in all-rounder Shivam Dube (34, 68b, 3x4) as the host finished the first day at 334 for five.

Setting the tone

Bista set the tone for the day with a typically aggressive knock. Dropped for the last week’s tie against Baroda on the back of a mediocre first half, the bespectacled opener started off with a flurry of boundaries off left-arm pacer Chetan Sakariya. While Auti was focussed on seeing off Unadkat’s opening burst, Bista went after Sakariya, hitting him for seven fours in his first three overs, which included four in the third.

Hardik Rathod, the third left-arm pacer in Saurashtra’s armoury, managed to stem the boundary flow for a while. It resulted in Bista attempting a suicidal single, twice, but survived due to Saurashtra fielders’ inability to strike the target. However, once he crossed his fifty with a cover drive off Prerak Mankad, Bista cut loose again and inched closer to what could have been a memorable hundred before lunch. But he was five short off the milestone with Mumbai placed 122 for no loss at lunch.

A cover drive followed by a tap to mid-wicket for a single off Rathod in the first over after the break helped Bista complete his fourth first-class hundred. Auti, too, grew in confidence and pulled and cut left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, who was generating bite and turn.

Dharmendrasinh Jadeja led Saurashtra's fightback with three wickets. PHOTO: VIVEK BENDRE



However, Bista’s quest to get on top of the spinner resulted in his downfall. He stepped out, tried to tonk him over the in-field but skied one to Aarpit Vasavada at extra cover. Auti, then, was dismissed in a near-identical manner from last week, when his attempt to leave the ball off Unadkat resulted in a nick to the ’keeper.

Soon after, Shreyas Iyer (cut Jadeja to backward point), Shubham Ranjane (inside-edged a drive off Sakariya) and Aditya Tare (chased a wide one off Jadeja for a nick to the slips) were dismissed for single-digit scores to leave Mumbai in trouble at 232 for five.

Lad then found a partner in Dube as the duo saw off the last session without damage. While they survived the tricky pitch, the tiring Saurashtra lot offered freebies in plenty and the duo, especially Lad, didn’t miss out on converting them into boundaries.

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