Ranji Trophy final: Nayar keeps Mumbai's hopes alive

A twist in the tale of the Ranji Trophy 2016-17 final could be on the cards after Abhishek Nayar battled it out for four hours to ensure Mumbai set a challenging target of 312 for Gujarat to win.

Mumbai batsman Abhishek Nayar

Abhishek Nayar played a gritty innings, scoring 91 from 146 balls.   -  PTI

A twist in the tale of the Ranji Trophy 2016-17 final could be on the cards after Abhishek Nayar battled it out for four hours to ensure Mumbai set a challenging target of 312 for Gujarat to win. Opener Prinyank Panchal made an aggressive unbeaten 34 as his side finished the fourth day at 47 without loss when darkness set in, forcing the umpires to bring a halt to action at 5.40pm here on Friday.

> Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details

In a keen tussle between the two West Zone teams at the Holkar Stadium here, Gujarat succeeded with the second new ball with medium-pacer Chintan Gaja scalping six wickets in a lion-hearted bowling effort of 39 overs. However, Mumbai showed a fierce determination as it took its second innings total to 411.

Nayar (91, 5 x 4s, 5 x 6s) was stoical for better part of his endeavour to keep Mumbai in the thick of action. He protected left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar from strike in the fruitful stand of 44 runs for the ninth-wicket, but once medium-pacer Gaja made Dabholkar chase a wide ball, which edged to Gohil in the cordon, Nayar used the power of his shoulder to strike the big blows before his dismissal.

Mumbai’s most successful player with the bat and ball from the quarterfinals, Nayar, came at the fall of Siddhesh Lad in the pre-lunch session and set about the business of holding up one end and the defensive approach resulted in him not scoring of 97 balls in a total of 146 he faced. Once again he proved to be a gritty customer when the chips were down after the dismissal of overnight batsman Suryakumar Yadav, Lad and skipper Aditya Tare in a space of 59 runs.

The Gujarat bowlers, who kept the Mumbai batsmen in check on the third day with a relentless outside the off stump line, continued in the same style when play began with Mumbai exactly 108 runs up with seven wickets in hand. Skipper Parthiv Patel took the second new ball when it was due and Gaja, who sent down a well directed short ball of the first, saw Yadav walking after feathering an onside catch to the 'keeper. Then a rush of blood pull shot from Lad ejected him out of the middle with Chirag Gandhi taking a catch at deep backward square leg. Lad had hooked a short ball previously for a six, but he paid the price for being reckless thereafter.

Skipper Aditya Tare, who escaped on 18 and when Mumbai was on 214 for three because Gaja had overstepped, dug his heels in and went on to make a invaluable half-century before falling leg-before to the left-arm spinner Hardik Patel. After his exit, Mumbai’s innings revolved around Nayar’s individual drive, with Balwinder Singh Sandhu Jr. featuring in a cameo role.

Mumbai lost wickets in a clutch and this dashed its hopes of scoring at a brisk rate. This was on a day when play ended 70 minutes past regulation time, taking the total time played to seven hours and 10 minutes, in order to make up for the less number of overs bowled in the first three days. It was a tough day, but Gujarat had the satisfaction of seeing its openers survive the best part of an hour against Shardul Thakur and Sandhu.