Mumbai v Uttar Pradesh, Ranji Trophy semi-final, Mumbai, 3rd day January 20, 2006

UP need another 175 to enter final

Cricinfo staff

Uttar Pradesh 250 and 39 for 1 trail Mumbai 199 and 264 (Muzumdar 86, Samant 64)by 175 runs

UP will depend on Mohammad Kaif to lead them to a place in the final © AFP
A triple strike by Ashish Winston Zaidi left Mumbai reeling at 48 for 4 before a 119-run partnership between Amol Muzumdar and Ramesh Powar and a plucky breezy effort from Vinayak Samant pulled them out of the crisis to leave the game intriguingly poised by the end of the third day at Wankhade Stadium. It was a super Sunday at cricket today; a veteran bowler rocked the hosts early, two proud mumbaikars then fought back before a young allrounder pulled things back for the visitors. Praveen Kumar, the 20-year old allrounder, prised out Powar enroute to a three-wicket haul to restrict the target, leaving UP with a slight advantage.

But the first stab at Mumbai came from a 34-year old journey man cricketer, Zaidi. Dubbed as the Amar Akbar Anthony of Indian cricket due to the uncommon name, Zaidi threatened to repeat his famous demolishing act of 1997-98 against the same opponents at the same venue. That was a semi-final encounter as well and Zaidi ripped apart Mumbai to shot them out for 98 on the first day. At the end of opening day in the current encounter he was quoted in The Mid-Day as saying, "I just got one wicket today... Vinita [his wife] will seek an explanation tonight". Vinita will be a happier woman tonight as Zaidi threatened to win it for UP with his opening burst. Mumbai, overnight on 21 for 0, lost Khanvilkar, edging behind off Shalabh Srivastava. Just one run later, Zaidi removed Sahil Kukreja, the other opener, in the same fashion before trapping Vineet Indulkar off the next ball to put UP on top. It was then UP ran into Amol Muzumdar, the wall of Mumbai cricket.

Muzumdar continued with his good run this season - a run-tally of 569 at 71.12 with two hundreds and three fifties- and went to lunch at a personal score of 37 and team's at 87 for 4. Powar joined Muzumdar and the duo brought up the Mumbai 100 in the 47th over. The hard-hitting Powar, who had sparkled with both bat and ball this season, proved an able ally to the finesse of Muzumdar. Kaif rotated his bowlers, throwing spin and seam at the pair but the two applied themselves and brought up the 150 in the 58th over and soon the 100-run partnership was up - in 120 minutes and of 174 balls. Just when Mumbai threatened to bat on to a big target, the UP youngsters struck.

Kumar, who hit Mumbai hard in the first essay with a four-wicket haul, induced Powar to edge behind to Amir Khan before Chawla engineered the exit of Muzumdar for a well-made 86 to push Mumbai to 177 for 6. But the 36-times champions fought back through Vinayak Samant, the wicketkeeper batsman, who propelled them past the 200-run mark. Samant, who opened the batting in the first innings and batting at No 7 in the second, came up with a plucky unbeaten effort, guiding the tail, to steer Mumbai to a fighting total. Of the 94 runs that came after he arrived at the crease, his contribution was a breezy 64 of 79 balls.

In the nine overs they were left to face UP showed a positive intent and with Kaif even making a signal of bravado. Kumar, the opener, attacked from the word go- three fours in a 13 ball knock -before falling to Aavishkar Salvi in the third over. Enter Kaif, a meek option of a deploying a night-watchman was available but the captain decided to set an example to his team and send a message to the opposite camp and at close UP still needed 175 to win and enter the finals. It happened in 1997-98, would history repeat itself? Day four will provide us with the answer.