Defending champion Saurashtra is all but out of the 2023-24 Vijay Hazare Trophy after a five-wicket loss to Mumbai at the Alur Cricket Stadium here on Friday.
Yet another below-par effort with the willow meant that Jaydev Unadkat’s men could only muster 144 runs after being asked to bat.
In reply, Mumbai wobbled a bit, reduced as it was to 76 for five. But a 74-run unbroken sixth-wicket stand between Prasad Pawar (43 n.o., 63b, 4x4, 1x6) and Shardul Thakur (39 n.o., 44b, 2x4, 2x6) carried the side to its fifth straight win and handed Saurashtra its third defeat in five matches.
Shardul and Pawar were watchful initially, so much so that there was a phase where they didn’t score a boundary for 11 overs. But once the total crossed 100, the duo let loose. Shardul pulled Unadkat for a four and then smashed Ankur Panwar for two maximums. Pawar brought proceedings to a close with a six over long-on off Dharmendrasinh Jadeja.
Shardul’s was, in fact, an all-round effort. Added to the Mumbai squad ahead of the game after a short period of rest to recover from the World Cup exertion, the pacer scalped two wickets (two for 37) in the morning.
If not for Cheteshwar Pujara’s dogged batting (55 n.o., 114b, 5x4, 1x6), Mumbai would have wrapped up the win much earlier. In the absence of Sheldon Jackson — who, in a rare move, was dropped after totalling just 11 runs from four innings — Pujara held Saurashtra aloft.
The 35-year-old was reprieved twice - dropped by ‘keeper Pawar off speedster Mohit Avasthi when on 10 and adjudged leg-before to Shardul when on 41 only for it to be a no-ball. He capitalised by bringing up his half-century with a pulled six and a heaved four. That he received no support from his teammates proved Saurashtra’s undoing.
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