Ranji Trophy: Shrivastava, Patidar lay anchor for MP

Aditya Shrivastava and Rajat Patidar added 126 runs for the second wicket to lay a solid base for Madhya Pradesh against Mumbai on Day One of its Group A fixture in Raipur.

Aditya Shrivastava scored 87 before being the second wicket to fall for Madhya Pradesh.   -  Sandeep Saxena (File Photo)

Two resilient innings; two missed opportunities, thanks to the pick of the bowlers overstepping; and an intense day’s action. That was the story of the opening day’s play of the Ranji Trophy Group A game between defending champion Mumbai and neighbouring Madhya Pradesh (MP).

>Scorecard

The pitch at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium, making its debut as a first-class cricket venue, didn’t resemble the highway that both teams have to take for a long drive en route the picturesque stadium on the outskirts of the city. But the greenish tinge on the strip hardly posed any questions to the batsmen all through the day. As a result, Madhya Pradesh will be reasonably happy with the scoreboard reading 239 for two at stumps.

MP skipper Devendra Bundela promptly chose to bat when the coin landed in his favour. With the ball coming on to the bat nicely, the first hour’s play was certainly going to set the tone for the day. While Balwinder Singh Sandhu got Mumbai’s act together straight away, its strike bowler Shardul Thakur struggled to get the line right, drifting the ball down consistently.

The freebies that Thakur offered were promptly despatched to the on-side fence by MP openers Aditya Shrivastava and Mukul Raghav. When Raghav fetched three fours in Thakur’s fourth over – a streaky inside edge that raced to the fine leg, a whip of the wrist to mid-wicket off one that was straighter and then a leg-glance off one that slid further down the leg – he was relaced with Tushar Deshpande.

The right-arm pacer got into the groove straight away, finding the perfect channel outside off stump. In his third over, he bent his back and got the ball to bounce a lot and induced an edge off Shrivastava.

Reprieve

Suryakumar Yadav didn’t make any mistake in accepting a sharp chance but umpire Shahvir Tarapore preferred to check for the no-ball with the third umpire-cum-match referee Manu Nayar. The replays showed Deshpande didn’t have any part of his toe behind the line and Shrivastava, batting on 10 then, survived.

Four overs later, Deshpande managed to have the ball jag back in a little to force a mistake off Raghav, with the ball rapping on to the batsman’s pad bang in the middle of the stump. Again, the umpire preferred to go upstairs immediately after upholding the appeal. And yet again, to the dismay of the Mumbai outfit, it turned out to be a no-ball.

Raghav didn’t make Mumbai suffer too much, though, with Abhishek Nayar forcing a nick off barely three overs later. But Shrivastava then combined with Rajat Patidar to justify their captain’s decision. The two have been MP’s finds in the last couple of seasons and both played percentage cricket to frustrate Mumbai bowlers. With the wicket getting slower, they didn’t take much chances till lunch.

But in the post-lunch session, the duo decided to up the ante. Patidar, especially, was fluent in his stroke-making – his boundary off Sandhu through midwicket after charging down the wicket being a stroke to cherish. Shrivastava also ensured that every loose delivery was put to boundary, thus not letting pressure build on to them. However, being 13 runs shy of what would have been his fifth first-class ton, Shrivastava’s attempt to clear the in-field off left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil turned out to be a miscued drive that lobbed to Siddhesh Lad’s palms at square point.

To their credit, Mumbai bowlers got their act together in the last session to restrict flow of runs. Had Kaustubh Pawar caught a sharp edge off Bundela’s willow off Deshpande, they would have felt even more relieved after a gruelling day’s play.

Deshpande's no-balls a 'big worry' for coach Pandit

When a pace bowler oversteps in his delivery stride, it’s an agonising feeling for him to walk back all the way and bowl an additional ball. When he gets a wicket off a no-ball but adds an extra run to his analysis instead of a wicket, it turns out to be a miserable feeling. Welcome to the world of Tushar Deshpande on Thursday.

The rookie bowler, playing only his third game for Mumbai, was the pick of the bowlers on the first day against Madhya Pradesh. But more than his adorable discipline – both with line and length – it will be the seven no-balls – two of which deprived him of a wicket – that would be remembered more than his disciplined bowling.

Head coach Chandrakant Pandit minced no words in stating Deshpande’s no-balls is a 'big worry' for the team. “That is a big worry because this is the fifth wicket that he has been deprived of because of a no-ball. And in this kind of a game where there is hardly anything for the bowlers, it can cost us the game,” Pandit said, after Mumbai toiled to see MP crawling to 239 for two.

With the Ranji Trophy scheduled in a manner nowadays that gives very little opportunity for any player to work on his technical deficiencies, Pandit is heartened with the improvement in Deshpande’s customary overstepping problem.

'Better'

“We have been working on this aspect. Not just now, but we have been working with him since the pre-season tournaments. He has become much, much better,” Pandit said. “Omkar (bowling coach Omkar Salvi) has been working with him really hard since the KSCA tournament (in August) where he used to bowl 15-20 no-balls. It has now come down to four-five an innings, but still that does not solve our problem.”

After this round, Mumbai will get a 10-day break before it resumes its campaign post-Diwali. While some of his teammates take a break, Deshpande is likely to hit the nets again, trying to perfect his run-up and landing.

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