Besides being left-arm spinners, Vishal Dabholkar and Aditya Dhumal had another common thread when they entered Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy Group A tie against Uttar Pradesh: both had a point to prove. While Dabholkar, after getting his action cleared last season, was playing his first match of the season, Dhumal was making his first-class debut.
The duo, aided by Kaustubh Pawar’s impressive close-in caching, achieved the objective in a stellar manner by running through the UP batting order and help Mumbai complete its second win in as many weeks in the hill station. The six points Mumbai earned from the 121-run victory also helped it retain the top place in the table.
Uttar Pradesh started the last day at the Srikantadatta Narasimha Raja Wadeyar Ground at 43 for one, 252 runs adrift the stiff target of 295. Shivam Chaudhary and Samarth Singh faced the pace triumvirate of Shardul Thakur, Tushar Deshpande and Abhishek Nayar with little difficulty after the latter survived a close leg-before shout off Thakur in the opening over of the morning.
While Samarth focused on saving his wicket, lanky Chaudhary played some delightful drives. However, he increasingly started looking shy as soon as the spinners came on to bowl. Dhumal, the debutant, consistently troubled both the batsmen, varying his loop and pace cleverly. He didn’t have to wait too long for celebrating as Chaudhary, immediately after completing his fifty, stepped out only to be undone by the flight and captain Aditya Tare completing the stumping.
The dismissal opened the floodgates and Mumbai eventually completed the rout 46 minutes after lunch, with the Dhumal-Pawar combination involved in last man Ankit Rajpoot’s dismissal to complete the youngster’s five-for.
That UP didn’t have the firepower to withstand Mumbai’s relentless pressure was evident yet again in the last hour before lunch as Chaudhary’s dismissal was followed by three more strikes in the session. Rinku Singh, Umang Sharma and Samarth were all caught by Pawar at silly-point, with the opening batsman falling on the stroke of tea.
Once Eklavya Dwivedi, the last specialist batsman, played Dabholkar across the line to be trappend in front of the wickets seven balls into the session, the writing was clear on the wall. Bhuvneshwar Kumar got two lives – by Suryakumar Yadav at slip and Siddhesh Lad while running backward from mid-on and hurting his back in a valiant dive – but couldn’t capitalise on it as UP capitulated halfway into the day’s proceedings and slide to the eighth position in the points table.
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