Ranji Trophy: Sarfaraz Khan, Siddhesh Lad lead Mumbai fightback

The 210-run partnership between the two keeps Mumbai in the hunt for an improbable first-innings lead.

Sarfaraz Khan plays a lofted stroke en route to his unbeaten 132.   -  Vivek Bendre

Sarfaraz Khan (132 n.o., 160b, 14x4, 6x6) and Siddhesh Lad (98, 174b, 10x4, 1x6) ensured the last day of its Ranji Trophy Group B game against Uttar Pradesh will be far from a drag at the Wankhede Stadium.

Thanks to the 210-run partnership between the two for the fifth wicket, Mumbai kept itself in the hunt for an improbable task of overhauling Uttar Pradesh’s first-innings total of 625 for eight declared.

However, UP regained the advantage about 20 minutes before stumps on Day Three. Lad chased a wide one by part-time left-arm spinner Mohammad Saif and paid the price; UP’s defensive tactics had paid off on a placid pitch. At 353 for five, Sarfaraz and captain Aditya Tare will know that with the new ball just four overs old, they will have an uphill task ahead to get Mumbai back in the game.

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The day, however, belonged to Sarfaraz and Lad, both of whom had a point to prove. While Sarfaraz was playing against UP for the first time since returning to Mumbai after a two-year stint with UP, Lad was woefully short of runs coming into the game, having tallied just 30 runs from five innings this season.

Turning the tide

But with a flat deck to their assistance and rookies Bhupen Lalwani (43, 80b, 5x4) and Hardik Tamore (51, 94b, 10x4) having negotiated the early moisture, the stage was set for the duo to turn the tide. Sarfaraz looked fluent ever since replacing Lalwani before lunch after the opener fell to an incoming delivery by pacer Wajid Ali. Lad, on the other hand, was rusty at the start after taking guard in his first over, after Ankit Rajpoot’s skidder exposed Tamore’s defence.

While Lad played delightful cuts and drives, Sarfaraz drove with panache, even employing his trademark upper cut with aplomb. The standout feature of his innings was temperament and ability to break the shackles by taking the aerial route. With UP employing defensive tactics in the last session, twice did Sarfaraz hit two sixes off consecutive balls, off Wajid and left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar.

But more than the lofted drive off Wajid that sailed over the bowler’s head into the sightscreen, the pick of Sarfaraz’s knock was the on-the-rise six off Rajpoot over mid-off that landed in the stands.

The scores
  • UTTAR PRADESH - 1st innings: 625 for 8 dec.
  • MUMBAI - 1st innings: Jay Bista c Shaukat b Rajpoot 3, Bhupen Lalwani lbw b Wajid 43, Shashank Attarde c Saif b Rajpoot 9, Hardik Tamore b Rajpoot 51, Siddhesh Lad c Upendra b Saif 98, Sarfaraz Khan (batting) 132, Aditya Tare (batting) 9; Extras (b-4, lb-1, nb-1, w-2) 8; Total (for five wkts., 90 overs): 353.
  • Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-16, 3-91, 4-128, 5-338.
  • UTTAR PRADESH BOWLING: Rajpoot 21-4-63-3, Dayal 26-3-84-0, Wajid 12-0-80-1, Saurabh 22-3-92-0, Akshdeep 4-0-16-0, Saif 5-1-13-1.

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