“If we can see off the first half hour, we can definitely chase it down.”
That’s what Sarfaraz Khan had said after Mumbai finished the penultimate day at 353 for five, in quest of Uttar Pradesh’s monumental 625 for eight declared on a sleeping beauty at the Wankhede Stadium. The middle-order batsman lived up to his words; he anchored the chase with his terrific triple hundred (301 n.o., 391b, 30x4, 8x6) and gave Mumbai a glimmer of hope of keeping its Ranji Trophy campaign alive.
Knock of his life
Sarfaraz played the knock of his life, combining flair and patience and ensuring he stayed at the crease even after Mumbai crossed the line to achieve the landmark during his 10-and-half-hour innings. But Mumbai couldn’t have earned the three points had it not been for critical contributions from captain Aditya Tare (97, 144b, 14x4) and all-rounder Shams Mulani (65, 82b, 5x4, 1x6).
Despite missing out on a second consecutive hundred, Tare’s 179-run partnership with Sarfaraz gave Mumbai the belief that it can achieve the incredible feat. Shams then ensured his reprieve (on 13 by Shaukat Almas at deep square-leg off Ankit Rajpoot) would haunt UP for a long time; he staying on with Sarfaraz until the latter ran a single to move to 261 and give Mumbai the lead.
Sarfaraz, however, played an amazing knock, continuing the maturity he displayed on the penultimate day. Starting the day at 130, he and Tare made optimum use of hard ball — the second new-ball was just four years old at the start — and flared a spree of boundaries. The only rush of blood he had was in 160s when he attempted an audacious slog-sweep of pacer Wajid Ali that landed in no man’s land.
Barring that, however, he waited for loose balls and resisted the temptation of manufacturing shots. Once he and Tare had added 111 runs in the first session, UP adopted negative tactics with the ball and delaying strategies in the field. But Sarfaraz maintained his composure on a day that saw him celebrate five different milestones: 150, 200, 250, innings lead and the 300.
He knelt down on his knees and raised his hands in the air for becoming Mumbai’s first triple-centurion in a decade after being allowed to go for the milestone by the Mumbai camp. But his sprint to the dressing room after Mumbai took the lead — with his single on 260 — was equally memorable.
That single ensured Mumbai’s campaign isn’t yet over.
- UTTAR PRADESH - 1st innings: 625 for 8 dec.
- MUMBAI - 1st innings: Jay Bista c Shaukat b Rajpoot 3, Bhupen Lalwani lbw b Wajid 43, Shashank Attarde c Saif b Rajpoot 9, Hardik Tamore b Rajpoot 51, Siddhesh Lad c Upendra b Saif 98, Sarfaraz Khan (not out) 301, Aditya Tare c Akshdeep b Rinku 97, Shams Mulani c Upendra b Saif 65, Akash Parkar (not out) 8; Extras (b-4, lb-4, nb-2, w-3) 13; Total (for seven wkts. dec., 166.3 overs): 688.
- Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-16, 3-91, 4-128, 5-338, 6-517, 7-667.
- UTTAR PRADESH BOWLING: Rajpoot 40-7-133-3, Dayal 40-4-132-0, Wajid 16-0-102-1, Saurabh 42-3-193-0, Akshdeep 4-0-16-0, Saif 13-2-54-2, Rinku 11-1-43-1, Umang 0.3-0-7-0.
- Result: Match drawn
- Points: Mumbai: 3 (12 in 5 games); Uttar Pradesh: 1 (14 in 6).