Riding on Tushar Deshpande’s maiden five-wicket haul, Mumbai sealed a comfortable 10-wicket victory over Railways in the Ranji Trophy to top the Group A points chart for the first time this season.
Deshpande’s five for 35 helped Mumbai scalp the remaining six wickets for 73 runs on the last morning at the Gangotri Glades Cricket Stadium. Akhil Herwadkar and Shreyas Iyer — opted in place of regular opener Kaustubh Pawar considering the importance of a bonus point — then cruised to the required target of 24 in just five overs, with the former completing the formalities with four consecutive fours off pacer Amit Mishra three minutes before scheduled close.
Herwadkar’s work was made easier by the Mumbai bowlers, especially pacers, who came back well in the morning session. If it was rookie spinner Vijay Gohil who had led the charge on the third morning as Mumbai bowlers accounted for seven wickets in the Railways first innings, Deshpande was the star turn for Mumbai on the final day.
Pace spearhead Shardul Thakur struck the first blow off the 10th ball of the morning, forcing Nitin Bhille to nick one slightly moving away to Herwadkar at third slip. For the next hour or so, the Mumbai pacers continued to pile the pressure on but didn’t really get rewarded. Thakur wasn’t lucky to add to his tally as Herwadkar grassed one at the same position off the edge of Faiz Ahmed.
However, the left-hander perished soon after, thanks to one from Deshpande that rose awkwardly to lob to Suryakumar Yadav at second slip after kissing the shoulder of Ahmed’s willow. That opened the floodgates as the rest of the tail didn’t show any resistance.
Karn Sharma, the last recognised batsman, lofted part-time off-spinner Siddhesh Lad over extra cover for a boundary to ensure Mumbai will have to bat again, but in the very next over, had no answer to one from Balwinder Singh Sandhu that kept slightly low and crashed into the stumps.
Deshpande then got a gift from Ashish Yadav, who gave Kaustubh Pawar catching practice at short mid-off before wrapping up the innings by inducing last-man Deepak Bansal into an edge to get Herwadkar back into action in the cordon.
Points: Mumbai 7 (19), Railways 0 (3).
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