For the second time in as many days, the Uttarakhand batters were found clueless against Mumbai’s onslaught to hand the 41-times champion outfit a record 725-run win in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal on the fourth day at the Alur Cricket Ground 2.
Having declared its second essay at its overnight score of 261 for three, Mumbai had set Uttarakhand an unrealistic target of 795 runs. Having lasted just 41 overs in its first innings, Uttarakhand batters would have hoped to stretch the game into the fifth day. Instead, the Mumbai bowlers rolled over them in the first session as Uttarakhand was bowled out for 69 just before lunch.
The margin of victory - 725 runs - was the highest-ever in the history of First Class cricket, overhauling New South Wales’ victory over Queensland by 685 runs in 1929-30. In the Ranji Trophy, the previous highest margin of victory by runs was 540 runs.
Only two Uttarakhand batters - Kunal Chandela at No. 3 and wicketkeeper Shivam Khurana - could reach double figures. The others found the Mumbai bowling onslaught too hot to handle. Dhawal Kulkarni started the rout with a fiery spell up front, Shams Mulani broke the back of its middle order and Tanush Kotian wiped out the tail in no time to give Mumbai a lopsided win with five sessions remaining.
Kulkarni knocked off Kamal Singh’s stumps with one that swung through the gap between the left-hander’s bat and pad and crashed into the middle stump. He then swung another one back into right-hander Jay Bista to hand his former teammate who was leading Uttarakhand a pair.
When Kulkarni won the battle of the veterans by setting up Robin Bist, Uttarakhand was in danger of repeating its mediocre performance in the first innings. After bowling four outswingers, Kulkarni bowled one down the leg and followed it up with a perfect inswinger to see the off-stump cartwheeling.
In the next over, Mohit Avasthi pegged back Swapnil Singh’s middle stump with an inswinger before handing over the reins to the spin duo of Mulani and Kotian for completing the formalities. Had Aditya Tare not dropped Chandela down the leg and injured his finger besides depriving Tushar Deshpande of a wicket, the game could have gotten over earlier.
The win formalised a tantalising semifinal between Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh at Just Cricket Academy from June 14. despite the demoralising loss, Uttarakhand will be proud of having qualified for the quarterfinal through Elite league.