For the second time in less than a week, Mumbai’s bowlers defended a moderate target to help its team edge Saurashtra out by eight runs and progress to the Super League of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy on Thursday.
Despite Prithvi Shaw (36 off 17b, 4x4, 3x6) getting Mumbai off to a flying start in its must-win Group C encounter at Holkar Stadium, Saurashtra pegged the star-studded Mumbai batting line-up back to bowl them out for 147.
The Mumbai bowlers then defended the below-par total by winding up the Saurashtra innings for 139 off the penultimate ball.
The result, combined with Railways thrashing Sikkim at the other venue, meant Mumbai and Railways have sealed the two qualification slots from the group for the next week’s Super League and the last round of matches on Saturday would effectively be inconsequential.
Had it not been for Mumbai’s creditable bowling effort, Saurashtra would have kept the last day’s proceedings alive. Shams Mulani, the lone specialist spinner for Mumbai, started off with a tight opening over and Dhawal Kulkarni then tied Cheteshwar Pujara down in the next, with the in-form Pujara eventually mistiming a flick to offer a regulation catch to Shardul Thakur at mid-on.
While Harvik Desai, the other in-form opener, was kept quiet, Robin Uthappa (57 off 41, 6x4, 1x6) enjoyed Tushar Deshpande’s pace, hitting three fours off the pacer in the Powerplay.
However, Mumbai brought parity back in five balls, with Thakur beating Desai with his pace to mistime a pre-meditated glide over short fine-leg to the ’keeper and Uthappa being guilty of running Sheldon Jackson out.
However, the experienced Uthappa kept Saurashtra in the game, with his drives through off-side racing to short boundaries. However, just when Uthappa and Vasavada were running away with the game, Uthappa was run out, thanks to Thakur’s direct hit from the edge of the circle.
With 39 runs required from five overs, Vasavada and Chirag Jani had to do the bulk of the scoring. But the Mumbai pace triumvirate bowled exceptionally at the death to wind up the Saurashtra innings, with Thakur emerging as the leading wicket-taker.
Earlier in the afternoon, Shaw’s early onslaught - with straight sixes off each of the two left-arm pacers and a whip off Chetan Sakariya over deep square-leg - had given Mumbai the momentum. But the middle order crumbled once Saurashtra didn’t let Shreyas Iyer run away with the game.
As a result, Mumbai lost eight wickets for 42 in the last eight overs to fold up for a mediocre total. In the end, that was enough for it to cross the line.
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