Ranji Trophy 2019-2020: Sarfaraz masterminds Mumbai’s incredible feat

Sarfaraz Khan emerged as Mumbai’s protagonist with an unbeaten 301 — the eighth triple hundred by a Mumbai batsman in First Class cricket.

Sarfaraz Khan at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.   -  Vivek Bendre

No doubt, it was one of the flattest decks one could come across. No doubt, Uttar Pradesh not only entered the game with four specialist bowlers but also had a potential threat on such a pitch in captain Ankit Rajpoot. Still, it takes a lot of character and skill to chase down a huge first-innings total of 625 for eight declared and earn three points for the lead.

Old-timers, cricketers and connoisseurs alike, revel in tales of Mumbai’s comebacks in its glorious Ranji Trophy sojourn. The current bunch — nowhere close to experience, skill-sets and domination — showed glimpses of that Mumbai shrewdness in achieving the unthinkable.

READ: AS IT HAPPENED

A gargantuan feat like the one Mumbai achieved on Wednesday needs at least one batsman to hold the chase together and others to chip in with vital contributions. Three years ago, at the same venue on a similar flat-bed, one had witnessed Rishabh Pant score a glorious 309 for Delhi versus Maharashtra. But with little support from the other end, despite Pant’s heroics, Delhi had fallen 45 runs short of Maharashtra’s 635 for two declared.

This time around, Sarfaraz Khan emerged as Mumbai’s protagonist with an unbeaten 301 — the eighth triple hundred by a Mumbai batsman in First Class cricket — with able assistance from multiple partners. Even before Sarfaraz took guard on the third afternoon, rookies Bhupen Lalwani and Hardik Tamore had started Mumbai’s recovery after a shaky start.

While Sarfaraz waltzed to glory in 390 balls with 30 fours and eight sixes, Siddhesh Lad (98), captain Aditya Tare (97) and Shams Mulani (65) stood along with him to help Mumbai cross the line after tea on the last day. Sarfaraz’s astounding feat was even more remarkable given the season Mumbai has had.

In the two previous home games, on sporting pitches at Wankhede and Bandra-Kurla Complex, Mumbai had tallied 655 runs in four innings. However, in conditions conducive for batting but without star power, Mumbai managed to achieve what most teams have struggled to do so far and could do so in years to come.

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