Syed Mushtaq Ali T20: Mumbai outsmarts Gujarat for first win

Kulkarni's spell (three for 31) helped Mumbai pull the breaks on Gujarat's innings and restrict it to 167 for seven at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium.

Mumbai batsman Suryakumar Yadav plays a shot against Gujarat in the West Zone Twenty20 League at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Monday.   -  Vijay Soneji

Ahead of the West Zone Twenty20 league, the Mumbai selectors had replaced Suryakumar Yadav as vice-captain with Dhawal Kulkarni. The experienced duo, assisted by the exuberance of Jay Bista at the top, helped Mumbai outsmart Gujarat and keep its campaign alive on Monday.

Kulkarni's spell (three for 31) helped Mumbai pull the breaks on Gujarat's innings and restrict it to 167 for seven at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium. Bista's quickfire fifty (50 off 35b, 7x4, 1x6) and Suryakumar Yadav's finishing act (45 n.o., 2x4, 2x6) then ensured that Mumbai registered its first victory of the league after going down to Baroda in Sunday's opener.

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When Yadav joined Lad in the tenth over of the chase, Mumbai had lost opener Bravish Shetty, captain Aditya Tare – who couldn't read a Piyush Chawla googly to record a second successive duck – and Bista, who dominated the Powerplay overs, in seven balls. As a result, Yadav and Lad had to start the rebuilding act from 67 for three. The duo  focussed on rotating the strike for the first three overs before Lad opened his shoulders up, hitting medium-pacer Santosh Shinde over the fence behind the bowler on either sides of the fence.

Yadav then went after Gujarat captain Axar Patel, first sweeping him for a flat six and then hitting a delightful aerial inside-out drive over covers that bounced one before crossing the ropes. The two's attacking play brought the asking rate under control and even after Lad and rookie Shashank Singh perished in the space of eight balls, with all-rounder Shivam Dube playing sensibly, Mumbai remained in the hunt.

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With 11 required off eight balls, left-handed Dube took a calculated risk off Jaiveer Parmar and his aerial flick saw Kshitij Patel making a mess at the square-leg boundary and conceding a four. Off the next ball, it was the turn of Rohit Dahiya to drop another skier running to his left from deep-fine and Dube ran two. Yadav then scored the required five runs off the two balls of the last over to see Mumbai through.

Had it not been for Kulkarni and the rest of the Mumbai bowling pack's efforts in the latter half of Gujarat's innings, Mumbai would have found itself chasing another huge total. After being inserted in to bat, Gujarat 'keeper Dhruv Rawal (73 off 34b, 9x4, 4x6) went after every bowler, barring leggie Parikshit Valsangkar, during the Powerplays. So taken aback was Tare with the counter-attack that he inexplicably tried out part-timer Lad in the Powerplay overs.

At 99 for three at the halfway stage, Gujarat was set to run away with the game. But Kulkarni, who had struck twice in the sixth over, Co. put in a a remarkable display to keep Gujarat batsmen in check. Shardul Thakur, returning from a shoulder injury, conceded just 12 runs in his last three over after going for 19 in his first, thanks to Raval's onslaught.

Saurashtra start on a winning note
 

Earlier in the morning, Maharashtra wasted an opportunity to emerge as the sole leader by making a mess of a moderate target of 143.

Saurashtra spin duo of Dharmendra Jadeja and leggie Yuvraj Chudasama put the brakes on Maharashtra scoring and Nikhil Naik failed to repeat his Sunday's heroics as Maharashtra failed to score 12 runs required off the last over.

 

Brief scores:
Gujarat 167 for seven in 20 overs (Dhruv Raval 73, Axar Patel 35; Dhawal Kulkarni three for 32) lost to Mumbai 168 for five in 19.2 overs (Jay Bista 50, Suryakumar Yadav 45 n.o.; Piyush Chawla two for 29)
Saurashtra 142 for nine in 20 overs (Prerak Mankad 34; Domnic Muthuswami two for 27, Shirkant Mundhe two for 27, Jagdish Zope two for 27) bt Maharashtra 138 for seven in 20 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 41; Yuvraj Chudasama two for 26, Shaurya Sanandia two for 37)
Ends