Wickets tumble as Mumbai hold the edge
Mumbai 251 and 112 for 8 (Gagandeep 4-38) lead Punjab 126 (Bahutule 4-20) by 237 runs
Sixteen wickets tumbled on the second day with Mumbai holding a slight edge in the Ranji Trophy semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium. Having bundled out Punjab for a paltry 126, Mumbai found themselves at a precarious 69 for 5, before Nishit Shetty eked out valuable runs late in the day and extended the lead to 237.
Resuming on 42 for 2, Punjab were jolted at regular intervals by a the varied Mumbai attack. Sairaj Bahutule led the spin attack with a superb 4 for 20 and was backed up well by Nilesh Kulkarni (3 for 18) and Ramesh Powar (1 for 15). Dinesh Mongia, the Punjab captain, and Pankaj Dharmani shared a 40-run stand for the fifth wicket, but the lower order came apart in the face of spin.
Gagandeep Singh was the most effective bowler for Punjab in the second innings as well and he pegged the top order back with three quick wickets. Rajesh Sharma, the offspinner, then weaved his web and pocketed three of the middle-order batsmen. But Shetty, the hero of Mumbai's triumph in the 2003 final, raced to 33 off 41 balls and took the lead past 200.
Punjab have two factors going in their favour. This season several teams have prospered when confronted with tricky fourth-innings targets even after collapsing in the first innings. Also, Yuvraj Singh, after making a duck yesterday, may decide to impose himself on the game and take Punjab to the final. To beat Mumbai in a knock-out game may require just that kind of magic.