Ranji Trophy: Lad century rescues Mumbai

Siddhesh Lad stitched useful partnerships with Aditya Tare and Abhishek Nayar to steer Mumbai to 250 for five on Day One of its Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Hyderabad in Raipur.

Siddhesh Lad scored an unbeaten 101.   -  Amol Karhadkar

Exactly two months ago, Siddhesh Lad and Abhishek Nayar – the ‘crisis men’ of Mumbai – had helped their team earn the innings lead by scoring centuries on the fourth day against Madhya Pradesh at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh Cricket Stadium.

Cut to Friday, and the duo – aided by skipper Aditya Tare – bailed Mumbai out of trouble against Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal at the same venue. Thanks to Lad’s unbeaten 101 and his twin century partnerships with Tare and Nayar, the latter being unbroken, Mumbai ended the opening day at a respectable 250 for five.

> Scorecard

While Lad’s hundred in what was his first game of the season after missing the first two games due to sore back was scored on a flat deck, Monday’s knock was scored in much more challenging conditions. Moreover, those runs were scored when he had to stage a rescue act with the team having been reduced to 34 for four in the morning.

The wicket – with chunks of live grass short of good length on either ends and dry otherwise – behaved to the displeasure of batsmen, with an odd ball rising while slowing down considerably as the day progressed, making stroke-making difficult.

Read: > Tare: 'Batting-wise I am feeling very confident'

Lad first played second fiddle to his captain before upping the ante in the last session, soon after Tare joined Suryakumar Yadav to play a false stroke on the day. Tare was set to convert his third fifty of the season into a maiden hundred, but soon after tea, drove Mohammed Siraj straight to S. Badrinath, who caught it on the second attempt at mid-on. Tare had scored 73.

Had B. Sandeep caught a deflection off Lad’s inside edge off leggie Akash Bhandari on the first ball after tea break minutes earlier, Mumbai would have been in dire straits. But Lad, on 35 then, made Hyderabad pay heftily.

A slog sweep off Bhandari opened the floodgates and the diminutive batsman started timing the ball sweetly. While he respected the pace triumvirate, he took a toll on both the spinners. While his sweeps and pulls were a treat to watch, an inside-out six – his trademark stroke – off left-arm spinner Mehdi Hasan was the highlight of his knock.

With Nayar rotating the strike at will, Lad flourished as he scored 66 runs in the last session to complete his second hundred of the season in the last over of the day. On course, he got two more reprieves, with Sandeep dropping him at gully off Siraj on 46 and C. V. Milind failing to latch on to a return catch with the new ball when Lad was on 89.

Jittery morning

The missed opportunities undid the pace troika’s exceptional work with the cherry early in the morning. It was a risky decision to bat first for Mumbai; Hyderabad almost made its opponents pay with spirited opening spells by all the three seamers.

While M. Ravi Kiran was unfortunate not to have picked a wicket, Milind got one to rise sharply on to an edgy Kevin d’Almeida and wicketkeeper K. Sumanth did not falter. Two balls later, Milind got one to rise off a grassy patch and Shreyas Iyer edged to P. Akshath Reddy in the cordon.

Suryakumar Yadav then played a reckless stroke to leave Mumbai stranded at 19 for three and when Milind got an inside edge off Praful Waghela’s willow on to the leg-stump, Mumbai was staring down the barrel at 34 for four.