Mumbai on brink of huge win
Vidarbha 113 and 177 for 8 (Shrivastava 69) need another 353 runs to beat Mumbai 261 and 381 for 4 dec (Tare 172, Rahane 133)
Mumbai were on the brink of registering a huge win in their maiden Ranji Trophy clash against Vidarbha. At the end of the penultimate day's play, chasing an improbable target of 530, Vidarbha were 177 for 8 at Wankhede Stadium.
The difference between the teams was vastly exposed as Mumbai ended up being the superior side by a distance. The only positive for Vidarbha was Shalabh Shrivastava's knock. The Vidarbha captain first counterattacked when Vidarbha were reeling at 33 for 3 before blocking the ball for most of the third session. However, even he ran out of patience towards the end of the day's play and offered a practice catch to his Mumbai counterpart Zaheer Khan at short midwicket off left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar.
The day, however, belonged to Mumbai's Aditya Tare and Ajinkya Rahane. The duo, who resumed their unbeaten 133-run partnership for the second wicket, went on to torment a hapless Vidarbha attack on the third morning. They scored at will as Tare crossed the 150-run mark in the first hour. Soon after, Rahane tapped a single off spinner Ravi Jangid to raise his bat for his 20th first-class hundred.
Tare was cutting loose to try to get his second double-hundred and help Mumbai declare the innings at the earliest. But he was caught at long-on off Jangid while trying to clear the boundary, thus ending the 260-run association. Rahane and Siddhesh Lad then saw off the rest of the morning session as Mumbai went into lunch at 326 for 3 and a lead of 474.
Instead of putting Vidarbha in to bat straight after lunch, Mumbai preferred to bat on for half an hour. Rahane fell for 133, caught by Shrivastava off Akshay Wakhare. Eventually, it was that extra half-hour that resulted in the match being stretched into the last day.
Vidarbha required opener Faiz Fazal to stay on for a long time if they were to keep themselves afloat. However, Zaheer required just five deliveries to dismiss Fazal with the ball of the match. The delivery pitched outside off and the left-hander's defensive shot was too late as the ball nipped back and took out his middle stump.
The wickets kept on tumbling for the rest of the day as no Vidarbha batsman, except Shrivastava and Shrikant Wagh, could occupy the crease. The Vidarbha downfall continued till the last ball of the day when part-timer Suryakumar Yadav trapped Umesh Yadav in front of the wickets. Had it not been for the 31-minute association between Shrivastava and Wagh, the match may well have been over with a day to spare. But it was not be and the teams will have to take the field on the last morning with the hosts needing two more wickets.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo