Ranji Trophy: Nayar, Lad ensure three points for Mumbai

Despite putting Mumbai under pressure, Madhya Pradesh couldn't deprive the defending champion from overhauling its first-innings total of 445.

Abhishek Nayar(in pic) and Siddhesh Lad stuck together to help Mumbai get the first innings lead over Madhya Pradesh.   -  Vivek Bendra

Around 45 minutes after the lunch break, soon after Mumbai’s Abhishek Nayar tapped a ball on to the on-side and sprinted for two runs along with partner Siddhesh Lad off the last ball of off-spinner Shubham Sharma’s over, Madhya Pradesh captain Devendra Bundela started the long walk back to the dressing room. With Mumbai having reached within two runs of taking the crucial first innings lead, Bundela’s face wore a resigned look.

That look summed up the proceedings on the last day of the Ranji Trophy Group A encounter at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium. Despite putting Mumbai under pressure, Madhya Pradesh couldn't deprive the defending champion from overhauling its first-innings total of 445.

Mumbai couldn’t have asked for a better script on Sunday. Nightwatchman Tushar Deshpande backed himself and played an entertaining 62-run knock (9x4, 1x6) at the start of the day to ease the pressure on his team. Even after overnight partner Akhil Herwadkar missed a sweep to be adjudged leg before off left-arm spinner Ankit Sharma to end the left-handers’ 69-run association for the sixth wicket, Deshpande carried on in the same vein along with Lad.

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Deshpande’s innings ensured Nayar and Lad, whose batting position was derailed by two places following two nightwachmans used by Mumbai on the second and third evenings, didn’t have too much on their platter after Mumbai started the day at 290 for five. Still, when Deshpande succumbed soon after celebrating his fifty and following it up with a straight six and a spanking cover drive off Ishwar Pandey – who was unlucky to have seen Bundela spill an edge off Deshpande’s willow early in the day – Mumbai was still 78 runs adrift the magic mark of 446.

But Lad and Nayar lived up to their reputation of crisis men and played risk-free cricket until they had achieved the primary objective. And the Mumbai duo continued their good work to end the day on a high, raising three-figure marks before the teams shook hands immediately after Lad tapped a single off the first ball of the mandatory hour.

While Mumbai will go into a deserving 10-day break, Madhya Pradesh will continue its neutral venue entourage, moving on to play Tamil Nadu in Cuttack from Thursday.

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