Ranji Trophy semi-final: Mumbai deflates Madhya Pradesh

In those 17.1 overs, Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Abhishek Nayar demonstrated to the Madhya Pradesh bowlers how to operate on a surface and in conditions where there was some assistance for the seam and swing bowlers.

Mumbai players celebrate as Rajat Patidar is bowled by Iqbal Abdullah.   -  V. Ganesan

Tangi: In cricketing terms, it was strangulation of the old fashioned kind. The Ranji semi-final here, as a contest, was settled in the first 80 minutes of the third day.

In those 17.1 overs, Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Abhishek Nayar demonstrated to the Madhya Pradesh bowlers how to operate on a surface and in conditions where there was some assistance for the seam and swing bowlers.

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It was a lot about control, keeping it simple with subtle variations and bowling to one’s strength. The planning was backed by execution. This time around, the catches were snapped up.

Sandhu and Nayar gave little away, kept the ball close to off-stump and moved it either way. The stress gradually built up on the batsmen. Unable to score runs and not being able to pick the direction of deviation, the Madhya Pradesh batting caved in, losing last five wickets for only 30 runs on Monday morning.

Replying to Mumbai’s first innings 371, Madhya Pradesh was dismissed for 227, conceding a massive 144-run lead at the DRIEMS ground here. The door has effectively been shut on Devendra Bundela’s men.

Sandhu scalped five and Nayar three. The match had swung Mumbai’s way.

The stress relieved, the Mumbai batsmen launched into a demoralised Madhya Pradesh attack in the second innings. Suryakumar Yadav (97 batting, 149b, 18x4, 1x6), skipper Aditya Tare (90 batting, 133b, 15x4), and Shreyas Iyer (58, 46b, 9x4, 1x6) scored boundaries at will to take the total to 285 for three.

Yadav and Tare have raised a hectic 190 runs in an unbeaten fourth wicket partnership off 272 balls. And Mumbai’s lead has swelled to 429 with two days remaining.

While some of the strokeplay was captivating, Bundela allowed the game to drift away further with unimaginative captaincy.

The first hour was always going to be crucial. And Nayar zeroed in on the right areas. He seamed a couple of deliveries into Naman Ojha and then took one a shade away. Ojha, removed on overnight 79, was drawn into a fatal nick. The experienced all-rounder then consumed Jagdeep Baweja with a leg-cutter.

Read: >Ojha waiting for another opportunity with Team India

Sandhu is a rarity in contemporary domestic scene. He is a genuine swing bowler. The paceman got his line and extent of swing right to find the edge of a fighting Ankit Dane (44). His movement proved too much for the tail.

Not learning lessons from Mumbai, the Madhya Pradesh pacemen once again sprayed the ball around to receive a hammering. Ishwar Pandey got Akhil Herwadkar with a short ball with wicketkeeper Ojha taking a fine catch down leg-side. Yadav, however, tore into the lanky seamer with five boundaries in an over.

Shreyas dazzled briefly with a flat six over covers off Chandrakant Sakure being a sensational strike. Then, Tare displayed flair and enterprise. His cuts, in particular, were fierce.

Madhya Pradesh has two long days ahead.