Ranji Trophy: Royston Dias helps Mumbai close in on first-innings lead

The pace trio of Royston Dias, Dhawal Kulkarni and Shivam Dube leave Gujarat struggling at 232 for eight at stumps on Day Two, trailing Mumbai by 65 runs.

On top: Royston Dias (left) celebrates one of his three wickets on Thursday.   -  Vivek Bendre

Despite being a member of Mumbai’s squad for the last three years, Royston Dias had earned only three first-class caps before the season, thanks to competition for places and fitness concerns. When he got the first opportunity of the season, the lanky left-arm pacer made it count to put Mumbai on top against Gujarat halfway through the Ranji Trophy Elite Group A clash.

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At the end of the second day’s play, thanks to Dias’ three for 52 and consistent efforts by captain Dhawal Kulkarni (two for 50) and Shivam Dube (two for 45), Gujarat was 232 for eight, trailing Mumbai's first innings total by 65 runs. Dhruv Raval has kept Gujarat alive with an unbeaten 60; but with the new cherry just two balls old, Mumbai would be hoping to press for its first outright win of the season.

Sweating it out

The effort of the pace triumvirate was commendable, especially with key pacer Tushar Deshpande — who bowled seven overs across two spells in the morning — being sidelined with recurrence of right hamstring injury. With Deshpande not taking the field after lunch, it resulted in the other three pacers toiling for 55.2 overs combined on a far-from-pleasant day at the Wankhede Stadium.

Tough nut: Dhruv Raval provided resistance with an unbeaten 60. Photo: PTI

 

The day may have ended on a happy note — with Dias’ short-ball ploy reaping rich rewards — but it didn’t start well for Mumbai, with Gujarat openers Priyank Panchal and Kathan Patel negotiating the first hour with little trouble. The moment Deshpande made way for Dias in the 10th over, the lanky bowler started asking questions of the openers and Panchal nicked one to Tare in his third over.

In control

Kulkarni then joined in; Patel poked and was caught by Tare before all-rounder Dube crashed through Bhargav Merai’s defence to leave Gujarat reeling at 63 for three. Manprit Juneja and Rujul Bhatt then brought semblance to the innings with a 67-run partnership that lasted more than two hours. However, with neither of the seasoned batsmen able to break the shackles, Gujarat was always under pressure. With Juneja edging Dube halfway into the afternoon session and offspinner Jay Bista breaking the partnership between Bhatt and Raval after tea — Bhatt’s bat turned in his hand to result in a catch to Armaan Jaffer at short cover — Mumbai snatched the control.

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Raval then found company in all-rounder Roosh Kalaria, who frustrated the Mumbai pacers by surviving the short-ball barrage.

Kalaria eventually perished with a top-edge to Suryakumar Yadav at gully off a Dias short ball. Dias then set up Piyush Chawla with a couple of fuller balls followed by one slightly shorter for the batsman to edge behind. Had substitute Akash Parkar caught a mistimed pull off Raval’s willow when he was on 48, Mumbai could well have wrapped up the Gujarat innings on the second day.

Brief Scores

Gujarat 232 for 8 (Dhruv Raval 60 n.o., Royston Dias 3 for 52) trails Mumbai 297 by 65 runs.