Ranji Trophy: Shantanu Mishra grinds Mumbai to the dust

Mishra's laborious 89 and handy contributions from Poddar and Raut frustrate Prithvi Shaw’s Mumbai.

With Mumbai and Saurashtra vying for the solitary spot for the knockouts, the onus was on Mumbai to press the accelerator. (Representational Image).   -  Special Arrangement

Opening batter Shantanu Mishra laid a near-perfect anchor as Odisha frustrated Mumbai in its quest for maximum points in their last league game of Ranji Trophy Elite Group D on Thursday.

Thanks to Mishra’s patient 89 (212b,11x4) and useful contributions by Govinda Poddar (37, 71b, 4x4, 1x6) and Abhishek Raut (35 n.o., 63b, 3x4, 1x6), Odisha trudged along to end the opening day’s proceedings at 250 for six after electing to bat at the Narendra Modi Stadium ‘B’ ground.

With Mumbai and Saurashtra vying for the solitary spot for the knockouts, the onus was on Mumbai to press the accelerator. Despite being asked to field on a pitch tailor-made for batters at least for the first two days, Mumbai bowlers put in an impressive performance. Still, Prithvi Shaw’s men will be feeling at least a wicket or two short to end the day.

The pace trio of Dhawal Kulkarni, Siddharth Raut (who came in for leggie Prashant Solanki) and Mohit Avasthi were at their disciplined best, while the spin duo of Shams Mulani and Tanush Kotian were tidy as well

However, Mishra’s laborious knock, which lasted eight minutes shy of five hours, ensured the Odisha innings did not collapse. While he left well outside off, once he lost opener Debasish Samantray (off-stump uprooted by Raut) and captain Subhranshu Senapati (lbw off Avasthi), Mishra started playing shots freely.

The highlight of his knock was the inside-out four over covers off Mulani’s left-arm spin in the afternoon session. Poddar’s cameo helped Odisha up the ante but just when he was starting to look dangerous, pressure created by Kotian’s tight over resulted in him nicking Avasthi to Aditya Tare behind the stumps.

Had Tare not squandered a difficult chance to get leftie Rajesh Mohanty stumped off Kotian soon after Rajesh Dhuper was caught at short-leg off Kotian, Mumbai may have been able to wind up the Odisha innings.

Mumbai will hope to wrap up the innings and bat big on the second morning. In its bid to bolster the top order, it has brought in Arman Jaffer in place of opener Aakarshit Gomel. While Jaffer is expected to bat at No. 3, left-hander Sachin Yadav is likely to be promoted as captain Shaw’s opening partner.

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