Kumar and Srivastava rock Mumbai
Mumbai 199 and 21 for 0 trail Uttar Pradesh 250 (Raina 72, Kaif 64) by 30 runs
Praveen Kumar and Shalabh Srivastava shared seven wickets between them to rock Mumbai as Uttar Pradesh shot out the 36-times champions for a paltry 199 before playing out the two overs without any damage to take the honours at the end of the opening day in the semi-final clash at the Wankhede stadium. The last time the two teams met in a semi-final clash was in 1997-98 and UP - powered by Ashish Zaidi- had shot out Mumbai for a shocking 98 on the first day. Seven years later at the same venue, it appeared the story would repeat itself but a valiant effort from the tail - involving Avishkar Salvi and Swapnil Hazare - lifted Mumbai, one stage tottering at 153 for 9 in 63.1 overs, to a fighting total. However UP - which had bounced back under Mohammad Kaif's leadership after a lackluster start to the season - will be quite happy with their day's work.
The Mumbai batting had been brittle all summer and especially with the absence of Wasim Jaffer- away on national duty - it would have been a slightly vulnerable Mumbai team that entered the Wankhede stadium today. "We look unsettled because the guys have not scored. We have failed to put a big score. It's time people such as Nishit Shetty converted those 30s into something big. They have to take more responsibility," Kharsan Ghavri, Mumbai's coach, had said on the eve of the game. The events on the field would have left him disappointed as UP bowlers created a stranglehold on the opening day.
The Mumbai innings was a crawl - the first fifty came in 27.5 overs at the cost of three wickets, the second took 17 overs but Mumbai lost two wickets and bled three more for the third fifty which came in 16 overs. Only Sahil Kukreja, the opener, offered any resistance with a 142-ball 49. But he once again failed to capitalise on his good start- the story of his season so far, averaging 30 with two fifties in 11 innings. The other batsmen however didn't quite get even a start with only Ramesh Powar and Aavishkar Salvi going past the 20-mark.
For UP, everything went according to their script. The young Kumar, who has scalped 27 wickets at 26.88 this season, combined well with Srivastava, eight wickets from three games, and hustled the batsmen. Piyush Chawla, the young legspinner who had castled Sachin Tendulkar with a googly in the Challenger series held a few months back, followed the good work, mopping up the tail.
The onus is now on the UP batsmen, led by Kaif and Suresh Raina, to follow up on the good work of the bowlers and post a big first-innings score to establish a firm grip on the game. But they would be the last team to underestimate Mumbai - It took UP 40 years to register their first and only win against Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy. A fascinating battle is on cards on the second day