Ranji Trophy: Ranjane, Nayar rescue Mumbai

Shubham Ranjane and Abhishek Nayar put on a 112-run sixth-wicket stand to defy Bengal a victory after seamer Ashoke Dinda reduced their team to 22-3 in 11 overs on the final day.

ABHISHEK NAYAR

Abhishek Nayar scored a 135-ball 51 in rescuing Mumbai from a defeat on the final day.   -  PTI

Bengal medium-pacer Ashoke Dinda fought gallantly with a nine-wicket match haul against the 41-time Ranji Trophy champion Mumbai in a vital group A match. But Mumbai’s Shubham Ranjane stole his thunder on an action-packed last day at the Vidarbha Cricket Association ground at Civil Lines here on Friday.

A third generation cricketer after his grandfather Vasant Ranjane and father Subhash Ranjane, the 22-year-old all-rounder played two years of club cricket in order to wear the Mumbai lions crest. In his third innings for Mumbai, he showed why the selectors were right in giving him the big break.

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Promoted ahead of the seasoned Abhishek Nayar, Ranjane’s courageous defence for five hours and nine minutes secured his team a quarterfinal spot with one more league match remaining against Punjab to be played in Rajkot.

Ranjane and Nayar began the rescue act once they joined forces after skipper Aditya Tare's fall in the 28th over. But Bengal was whiffing victory after Dinda scalped Mumbai's top-three for 22 runs. But Ranjane showed adequate nerves and skill to defy Dinda, who sent down 27 overs in a quest for a Bengal win that would have taken the team's tally to 22 points.

Bengal’s second innings came to a close at 437 with Mumbai seamer Dhawal Kulkarni taking five wickets.

On ideal batting conditions, Mumbai opener Jay Bista slashed a shot to the point fielder.Then Shreyas Iyer played across to be bowled. Kaustubh Pawar was outwitted by Dinda and soon Mukesh Kumar made Suryakumar Yadav square up and edge to slip. At 55 for 4, Mumbai was in doldrums, and a defeat loomed large when left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha made a delivery to jump for a feeble response from Tare; Abhimanyu Eswaran at silly mid off held a simple catch.

After the fall of Nayar, Ranjane and Kulkarni played out 15 tense overs. The new ball, taken after Nayar's dismissal, hardly made a difference. Ojha tried to bring Kulkarni under pressure surrounding the right hander with seven fielders and the other three inside the square, but the Mumbai seamer thwarted the danger.