Ranji Trophy: Iyer's knock gives Mumbai hope

Shreyas Iyer and Shivam Dube gave Mumbai a slim chance of converting the first innings lead into an outright win against Saurashtra.

Shreyas Iyer's knock of 83 has given Mumbai hope for an outright win.   -  Vivek Bendre

Chirag Jani (85, 176b, 7x4, 1x6), aided by the Saurashtra tail, played a near-perfect innings to frustrate Mumbai for almost two sessions. But Shreyas Iyer’s swashbuckling 83 (61b, 5x4, 7x6) and Shivam Dube’s cameo (39, 29b, 3x4, 3x6) gave Mumbai a slim chance of converting the first innings lead into an outright win in the Ranji Trophy Elite Group.

At the end of the penultimate day’s proceedings at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, after gaining a 46-run advantage in the first innings, plundered 175 for five off just 32 overs to surge ahead by 221 runs. Desperately seeking first win of the season to keep its hope of making the cut for the knock-outs - Mumbai will hope to add quick runs in the morning and the spinners to exploit the rough on the last day.

After a relatively dull first two sessions, Mumbai was expected to go for the runs in its second essay. The intent was clear when Iyer walked in at No. 3 in the sixth over. Even afer Jay Bista (drawn forward by Unadkat for a sharp catch by Arpit Vasavada at second slip) and Siddhesh Lad (attempted a cover drive on-the-rise to nick to the ’keeper) in quick succession, with Iyer having started on a good note, Mumbai promoted hard-hitter Shivam Dube to No. 5.

Read: Vikas Mishra bowls Delhi to outright win over MP

The move worked wonders as Iyer and Dube added 74 runs off 56 balls. The duo was severe on left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, muscling him for 41 runs off his five overs, including two sixes each to get the faithful Wankhede crowd to burst into a celebration.

Even though Unadkat put the brakes on by forcing the left-hander into a miscued drive to be caught at mid-off, Iyer continued to go after the medium pacer of Hardik Rathod and Jani. Once Jadeja was brought back into the attack, Iyer tonked him for three consecutive sixes, all over long-on. Jadeja then changed the angle and bowled the last ball of the over around the wicket outside off and Iyer didn’t connect to be caught at long-on.

While Iyer and Dube made a feast in the evening, its bowlers toiled through the earlier part of the day in quest of the last five Saurashtra wickets. The day started off well with Dube getting rid of the overnight half-centurion Prerak Mankad early but Jani then just dug deep.

Not only did he bat long but he also scored freely against a largely-haphazard bowling attack. It reflected in the fact that despite the new ball being opted for after the seventh wicket fell, the last three Saurashtra wickets batted 40 overs, adding 99 runs. While Mumbai was never in danger of conceding the lead, the Saurashtra resistance meant Mumbai struggled for cushion - both in terms of lead and time - for an outright win.

Brief score:

Mumbai 394 & 175 for five in 32 overs (Shreyas Iyer 83) vs Saurashtra 348 in 119.3 overs (Sheldon Jackson 95, Prerak Mankad 59, Chiragi Jani 85).