Ranji Trophy: Resilient Nayar takes Mumbai home

Chasing 97, Mumbai's Abhishek Nayar produced a match-winning performance of 45 not out off 56 balls, leaving Tamil Nadu stranded at the post literally.

Abhishek Nayar's match-winning innings had five boundaries and two hits over the fence as he guided Mumbai to a thrilling two-wicket victory over Tamil Nadu.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

The Mumbai resilience is intact. Tamil Nadu discovered it on Saturday as Abhishek Nayar enacted what many of his illustrious predecessors have. He produced a match-winning performance with the bat to leaving the opposition stranded at the post literally.

Tamil Nadu, defending 97, came excruciatingly close to beating Mumbai but couldn't close the game as it lost the opening Ranji Trophy match by two wickets. “We were perhaps a wicket-away from losing. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel the game slipping away,” confessed Nayar, joy written all over his 33-year-old face, today being his birthday.

> Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Tamil Nadu, through the spirited seam attack of Aswin Crist and K. Vignesh, kept making regular dents in the Mumbai chase but Nayar stood tall. The left-hander admitted he was “drained, mentally and physically.” Returning after a six-month lay-off from an ankle injury, and not a game to prepare, Nayar crafted a brilliant victory, repaying the confidence coach Chanrakant Pandit reposed in him by granting the No 5 slot.

“’I’m ready’ he said confidently,” said Pandit. “He’s our crisis man, always standing up for the team.” Walking in at 24 for three, Nayar did not leave the task to anyone and finished it with a single off Vignesh, who had the mortification of being swung for a six by the batsman at a crucial stage. Nayar had dealt Crist a deadly blow by smashing him over the straight sightscreen. Nayar batted 56 balls and hit five fours too.

“I expected Nayar to come at No 3,” said Tamil Nadu coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar. “I give credit to Mumbai because Nayar held the chase firmly. He didn’t panic. Not much different we could have done. We fought till the end. We are a little disappointed at the result but the process was good. The effort was good.”

It was an ideal contest to match the standards of the competition. The bowlers had their moments and the batsmen came up with their skilful versions on a pitch that demanded technical excellence. “It was a difficult pitch and I rate this innings very high. I was lucky enough that I could fend off the good balls. I opened up my stance a little and made it a point not to play on the back foot. They bowled exceptionally well,” said Nayar.

Resuming at 153 for six, Tamil Nadu lasted a mere 8.4 overs this morning as seamer Dhawal Kulkarni took four for 18 today to finish with a match haul of ten for 78. “A few more runs would have helped us,” reflected Tamil Nadu captain Abhinav Mukund. “We fought really well but Nayar took it away. He played some extraordinary shots. It was a hard pitch and one could never feel settled. It was a learning experience for all of us,” Mukund added.

The scores (round one, day three):

Group A

At Jaipur: Baroda 544 for eight decl. vs. Gujarat 277 for four in 105 overs (Samit Gohil 43, Bhargav Merai 70, Manpreet Juneja 66 batting, Rujul Bhatt 38 batting)

At Lahli: Tamil Nadu 87 & 185 in 62.4 overs (Abhinav Mukund 56, Washington Sundar 40, Dhawal Kulkarni six for 47, Vijay D. Gohil three for 36) lost to Mumbai 176 & 97 for eight in 35.3 overs (Abhishek Nayar 45 n.o., Aswin Crist four for 43, K. Vignesh four for 29)

At New Delhi (Palam): Railways 331 & 180 for two in 67 overs (Saurabh Wakaskar 56 retired hurt, Shivakant Shukla 83 batting, Mahesh Rawat 34 batting) vs. Punjab 215 in 80.1 overs (Uday Kaul 61, Gurkeerat Mann 66, Manjeet Chaudhary four for 56)

At Hyderabad: Madhya Pradesh 465 & 118 for two in 53 overs (Tanmay Srivastava 60 batting) vs. Uttar Pradesh 176 in 63.2 overs (Eklavya Dwivedi 37, Kuldeep Yadav 36, Ishwar Pandey three for 65, Gourav Yadav four for 44)



Group B

At Vizianagaram: Saurashtra 430 vs. Rajasthan 62 for one in 19 overs (Manender Singh 44 batting)

At Visakhapatnam: Odisha 150 & 74 for no loss in 22 overs (Sandeep Pattnaik 40 batting) vs. Vidarbha 272 for six decl. in 102 overs (Faiz Fazal 99, Ganesh Satish 74, Deepak Behera three for 35)

At New Delhi (Karnail Singh stadium): Maharashtra 210 & 188 in 61.4 overs (Rahul Tripathi 32, Kedar Jadhav 56, Ashish Kumar three for 44, Shahbaz Nadeem three for 43) vs. Jharkhand 306 in 105.2 overs (Kaushal Singh 130, Virat Singh 46, Saurabh Tiwary 33, Shrikant Mundhe four for 102, Anupam Sanklecha five for 71) & 56 for four in 13 overs

At Vadodara: Assam 193 & 100 for three in 37 overs (Rahul Hazarika 40, Amit Verma 33 batting) vs. Delhi 589 for eight decl. in 128.1 overs (Unmukt Chand 55, Nitish Rana 146, Rishabh Pant 146, Pradeep Sangwan 100 n.o., Milind Kumar 92, Abu Nechim five for 106)



Group C

At Bhubaneswar: Himachal 357 in 93.2 overs (Stephen three for 74) vs. Andhra 47 for one in 14 overs

At Ranchi: Tripura 118 & 149 in 84.3 (Ajay Mandal four for 55) overs lost to Chhattisgarh 255 & 13 for one in 3.5 overs

At Nagpur: Goa 164 & five for no loss in 2.3 overs vs. Hyderabad 388 in 130 overs (Akshath Reddy 128, Bavanaka Sandeep 108, Mehdi Hasan 62, S. Badrinath 41, Amit Yadav three for 73)

At Mumbai: Services 197 & 148 for two in 44 overs (Nakul Verma 54 batting, Aanshul Gupta 40, Soumik Chatterjee 33) vs. Haryana 248 in 89.5 overs (Shubham Rohilla 92, Joginder Sharma 46 n.o., Rajat Paliwal 33, Khalid Ahmad four for 86, Vikas Yadav four for 80)

At Kalyani: Kerala 306 in 102.1 overs (Sanju Samson 154, Jalaj Saxena 69, Samiullah Beigh six for 82, Ram Dayal three for 88) vs. Jammu & Kashmir 106 for five in 29 overs (Adil Reshi 40, Iqbal Abdullah three for 32)