On a day of fluctuating fortunes, Mumbai's lower order held its fort to clinch a vital first innings lead against Madhya Pradesh in its Ranji Trophy opener at The Emerald Heights International School ground on Monday.
Mumbai started the day at 130 for one, 279 adrift of Madhya Pradesh's total of 409. On a flat deck with little to offer to the bowlers and a highly inexperienced lower middle order to follow, the onus was on the specialist batsmen to ensure three points with the lead.
Jay Bista and Siddhesh Lad got off the blocks with little trouble, with Bista racing to a memorable hundred. The opener drove MP pace spearhead Ishwar Pandey through covers in the first half hour to raise his bat for a hundred on the Ranji comeback.
Bista and Lad then carried on scoring virtually at will until the aggressive opener miscued a paddle sweep off left-arm spinner Ankit Sharma to offer captain Devendra Bundela a catch behind the stumps.
While stand-in captain Suryakumar Yadav didn't take long to hit the strides, Lad edged Chandrakant Sakure to Waseem Ahmed at gully just when Mumbai was looking to run away with the game.
Shubham Ranjane's dismissal in the last over before lunch brought Madhya Pradesh back in the game. Despite conceding a whopping 150 runs in 34 overs, the three wickets gave MP bowlers a hope of restricting Mumbai in the latter half.
Abhishek Nayar was then found backing up too far as a ferocious straight drive off Yadav's willow ricocheted off bowler Sakure's fingers onto the stumps at the non-striker's end - the replays catching Nayar out of the crease.
Debutant all-rounder Akash Parkar then started blocking one end until he drove Ankit Kushwah in the air. Had Sakure not dropped a dolly at backward point, Mumbai would have been staring down the barrel at 303 for six.
Instead, Parkar continued to anchor one end, with Yadav milking the MP bowlers at will. His punches and drives were a treat to watch. That MP delayed the new ball until the 98th over also helped Yadav get closer to the magic mark of 410.
But once the new ball was taken, it took Pandey barely five overs to lure Yadav into a false flick and disturb the leg-stump.That brought keeper Sufiyan Shaikh to the crease. who along with Parkar took Mumbai within touching distance before leggie Mihir Hirwani induced an edge off Parkar to reduce Mumbai to 391 for seven.
However, Shaikh kept his head on his shoulder and with Vijay Gohil for company, overhauled MP's total with successive cover drives off Ankit Sharma minutes before the stumps were drawn.
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