Fielding lapses cost Mumbai dear

Naman Ojha (99*), Ankit Sharma (63*) half-centuries provide MP an edge over Mumbai at the end of first day in Indore.

Veteran Naman Ojha is one run short of his 21st first-class hundred in Madhya Pradesh's Ranji Trophy rubber against Mumbai.   -  V. GANESAN

The young crop of pace bowlers stepped up to the challenge of first-class cricket. However, the absence of support in the field meant Mumbai had a far from ideal opening day in its Ranji Trophy campaign against Madhya Pradesh (MP) in Indore on Saturday.

Veteran Naman Ojha and seasoned all-rounder Ankit Sharma made Mumbai's lapses in the field cost the visiting team dearly. The duo's unbroken association of 112 runs for the sixth wicket helped MP recover from a precarious 138 for five to end the first day at 250 for five at The Emerald Heights International School ground.

Had wicketkeeper Sufiyan Shaikh and Akhil Herwadkar not erred while stumping and catching, Mumbai could well have put the hosts under pressure. Ojha, the lone player in the match with a Test cap, ensured that Shaikh and his team-mate would rue a missed stumping opportunity off left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil just before lunch. Ojha was batting on 18 then and ended the day one run short of his 21st first-class hundred, having surpassed the 7,000-run mark in Ranji Trophy.

Late in the day's play, all-rounder Ankit was the beneficiary of catching errors, twice depriving of left-arm paceman Royston Dias of his wicket. First, when he was on 44, Shaikh attempted an extravagant dive when an edge off Ankit's willow was flying straight to stand-in captain Suryakumar Yadav. Soon after, when the batsman was on 55, Herwadkar spilt an overhead catch at second-slip.

Earlier in the morning, Herwadkar had grassed one off the same bowler at gully. However, Harpreet Singh couldn't make Mumbai pay for it as the left-hander was trapped leg-before without adding to the score by Akash Parkar, one of the two Mumbai debutants. While Parkar and Minad Manjrekar, the other paceman who earned the Lion's crest, played a perfect second fiddle, Dias put in a consistent performance throughout the four spells he bowled on a hot day.

While Abhishek Nayar gave Mumbai a breakthrough by enticing an edge off Waseem Ahmed when the opener was on track of putting MP in charge along with Ojha; Gohil was impressive in patches despite earning the prize scalp of MP skipper Devendra Bundela. However, Ojha's 347-minute vigil, backed by Ankit's aggressive innings, meant MP had the last laugh on an eventful day.

Brief scores: Madhya Pradesh (first innings) N Ojha 99*, A Sharma 63*; A Parkar 2/48, R Dias 1/37

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