Mumbai v Saurashtra, Ranji Trophy, final, 1st day January 26, 2013

Kulkarni gives Mumbai the advantage


Mumbai 19 for 0 trail Saurashtra 148 (Vasavada 55, Kulkarni 4-24) by 129 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Based on this season's form, there was no reason for Mumbai to start the final as overwhelming favourites against Saurashtra. But when it comes to big matches, the formbook can be ripped apart. At the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday, Mumbai showed exactly why they can be backed almost blindly in important contests, as they shredded the Saurashtra batting to take charge of the final.

Before the game, it was assumed that Mumbai's strategy, if they won the toss, would be to bury the opposition under a mountain of runs, as they had done to perfection in the quarter-final against Baroda. Surprisingly, they chose to bowl. At times, there were three slips and two gullies in place and Saurashtra's run-rate was almost always below two an over, even though the track was not a batsman-killer. It had decent bounce and a bit of movement in the morning, but was certainly not tricky enough to merit the visitors' collapse to 50 for 5. Perhaps Saurashtra were overwhelmed by the occasion, and Ajit Agarkar looked to exploit that by banging in a bouncer on the first ball of the match.

Agarkar's new-ball partner Dhawal Kulkarni was the star of the morning session with his opening spell of 7-4-6-2 that kept the Saurashtra batsmen on edge. Opener Sagar Jogiyani retreated towards leg and pushed his bat out, edging to second slip in the second over of the day. Rahul Dave, unsure whether to duck or pull a Kulkarni short ball, got himself tangled up before providing another slip catch. One of the best deliveries of the day was the one that accounted for Sheldon Jackson, Saurashtra's highest run-getter this season with centuries in the quarter-final and semi-final. Kulkarni got it to bounce and swerve away just a touch, making Jackson prod the ball to the keeper. He finished the innings with figures of 21.3-13-24-4.

The experienced opener Shitanshu Kotak hardly played a forceful shot in his two-hour stay, as he tried to stabilise the rocky innings. He fell, though, in a manner which had some resemblance to his semi-final dismissal - caught at slip while trying to force a spinner off the backfoot.

While Saurashtra struggled, their captain, Jaydev Shah, down with a fever, decided to demote himself from his regular No. 4 spot, walking in after four wickets had fallen. If he had hoped the extra time in the dressing room would have allowed time for the moisture in the track to evaporate, he needn't have bothered as he clipped left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar to midwicket for a duck.

Saurashtra showed more spine after lunch with Aarpit Vasavada, the bespectacled left-hand batsman who has been one of their success stories this year, battling to a half-century filled with slaps and edges around point. Kamlesh Makwana, a regular source of runs in the lower order, also resisted and the pair cautiously played out almost the entire session.

With the track flattening out, Saurashtra raising hopes of a competitive total and Mumbai's bowlers unable to make the breakthrough, the home side turned to their crisis man, Abhishek Nayar, who duly delivered by removing both batsmen a few minutes short of tea.

The Saurashtra tail hung around for a while, riding their luck as they repeatedly swished and missed at Kulkarni's deliveries outside off. The batting collapse aside, Jaydev Unadkat's run-out would have disappointed Saurashtra coach Debu Mitra, who had spoken before the match about how he had worked hard to imbibe some cricketing nous in the team during his long stint. Unadkat didn't show much evidence of that. The bowler, who took off a lackadaisical single after hitting to point, didn't try sliding his bat in to beat a throw from Dabholkar. He was out for 22. It was the sort of schoolboy mistake that famously makes Sunil Gavaskar livid.

Unadkat could have made up for that mistake as early as the first ball of Mumbai's innings when he jagged the ball in to beat Wasim Jaffer's bat only for the loud lbw appeal to be turned down due to the height. Mumbai reached stumps without losing any wickets and a bigger crowd than the thousand-odd who showed up on the first day will be on hand to cheer them on Sunday, when they look to bat Saurashtra out of the match.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sachin on January 27, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    @desi1 On form and Technique most of the Mumbai batsmen are better than the others and deserves to play for India in Test. Jaffer, Rahane, Tendulkar, Rohit, Nayar, Tare can directly walked into the team and perform better than Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Kohli, Raina, Dhoni and Jadeja. Only Batsmen who can directly walk into the mumbai team is Pujara.

  • akshay on January 27, 2013, 4:52 GMT

    @desi: mumbai is the best team ..after performing poor in league matches they came back strongly n thats what mumbai is known for ..their fighting nature..they never give up..nayar tare dabholkar all have done well for mumbai and mumbai deserves the trophy ..agarkar has led the team from front in semis it was agarkar n tare who batted well..they have shown their skills and they perform well as a unit..

  • Ranga on January 27, 2013, 0:52 GMT

    Very poor coverage by cricinfo

  • Par on January 27, 2013, 0:31 GMT

    @desi1 , you mean to say no one who can be a flat track bully and media heartthrobs in the likes of kohli, raina, dhoni, gambhir ? Well then you are spot on.

    But on serious note I agree, none of the players might be as good as 20 years ago, when mumbai players could walk into indian set up and sometimes India test players did not get to bat for Mumbai so formidable was the line-up. But as someone pointed out, just based on mentality and ability to "punch above their weight", a mumbai player is better than few indian stars. Jaffer could have played all 10-0 drubbings and came out fighting than mega-ipl-made-flops. Rahane deserved test opportunity by kicking one of the gambhir/sehwag fellows. And even if they lack the skill at highest level, there is much to learn from them for "skillful" of indian teammates (be in zaheer/ bhajji kind or vaunted batting line up). Put premium on your wicket and fight, thats what Nayar teaches Kohli/Gauti/Viru if they were to watch him.

  • Sarav on January 26, 2013, 23:52 GMT

    Sad for saurashtra, their best man is sitting in bench instead of representing his team in Ranji Final. If he didnt get chance today in last ODI too, that has to be severely questioned for wasting his matches.

  • Sachin on January 26, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    Tare is the good Wikect keeper batsmen in First class and he deserves chance in Tests.

  • Brian on January 26, 2013, 19:30 GMT

    @Desi1 that's precisely why Mumbai is the BEST TEAM. But your statement in isolation is incorrect and smacks of jealousy. Rahane most definitely should be in test team along with Jaffer (Who could have played at no.6 all this years if not as an opener, cant believe his technique was not better than Ganguly) Not very far till we see Rohit in team as well. And before you type anything please take effort to read Nayar's record this season.

  • Desi on January 26, 2013, 16:13 GMT

    mumbai might have played well as a team but this mumbai side has not even one player who looks decent enough to go and play test for india. Nayar might get a chance because of mumbai connections but i dont think he will be success at internation level .. just my opinion though.

  • Al on January 26, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    Mumbai missed a trick by not playing Javed Khan. I thought he did reasonably well in prior matches. Playing Thakur instead of Javed Khan was a mistake.

  • HNL on January 26, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    This shows why most Indian batsmen, with rare exceptions, are mega flops when they are sent to bat on pitches with some bounce and pace, be it abroad or at home. That's why we need more senior team guys stick their neck out and play on such pitches rather than living on past glory achieved on lifeless pitches against toothless bowling attacks.

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