Neither change of calendar nor venue — from the iconic Wankhede Stadium to the MCA facility in the Bandra-Kurla Complex — could help Mumbai batsmen from faltering against a decent bowling attack.
A disciplined Karnataka pace department combined with mediocre batting display — barring the exception of captain Suryakumar Yadav and Shashank Attarde lower down the order — meant Mumbai folded up for 194 on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy league match.
After succumbing to the four-pronged pace attack on a result-oriented track that had a lot of bite for the pacers, and started turning on the opening evening itself, the Mumbai spinners helped the home team pave its way back into the game. The spin twins of Shams Mulani and Attarde scalped three top-order batsmen; with Mulani accounting opener Devdutt Padikkal and Abhishek Reddy in three balls at the fag end of the day’s play to reduce Karnataka to 79 for three.
Had it not been for Surya and Attarde’s 88-run partnership for the seventh wicket, Mumbai could well have struggled to cross the 114-run mark it set as a low against Railways on the first morning last week. Once the pitch started easing out, Surya showcased his wide array of strokes. The standout strokes off his 10 fours and two sixes were the push through cover point to help him open his account and a sweep off left-arm pacer Prateek Jain that sailed over the square-leg fence after lunch.
However, barring the duo, the other Mumbai batsmen failed to apply themselves. Despite the early start and a helpful pitch to their advantage, to their credit, the Karnataka pacers didn’t get swayed by it and stuck to the basics. It resulted in batsmen committing mistakes in plenty. Aditya Tare (chasing wide one by V. Koushik off the first ball to edge behind, although the batsman was unhappy with the decision), Ajinkya Rahane (chasing one by Ronit More to the keeper), Prithvi Shaw (playing on) all succumbed to the pressure employed by the opposition bowlers.
After bowling Mumbai out during the extended second session, the Karnataka openers didn’t repeat the Mumbai batsmen’s mistakes. Padikkal and R. Samarth were hardly in trouble against the pace troika but once the spinners were introduced, the pitch started unleashing its tricks.
Shaw, who is set to leave for New Zealand with the India A side on January 10, hurt his left shoulder while fielding. He dived to save an overthrow, and was taken off the field. As a precautionary measure, he underwent an MRI scan.
Shaw has had a torrid 2019, due to a mixture of injuries and suspension following an inadvertent doping offence. After serving the suspension, the right-hander made a stunning comeback with a whirlwind double hundred in Mumbai’s Ranji season-opener against Baroda last month. Tipped to be the leading contender as the reserve opener for India’s Test series in New Zealand next month, Shaw will be hoping the injury doesn’t stall his rise.
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