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The Report by Abhishek Purohit in Mumbai
December 7, 2013
Mumbai 210 for 5 (Tare 67, Yadav 49*) trail Jharkhand 351 (Tiwary 238, Javed 4-79, Dabholkar 4-81) by 141 runs
Mumbai's defensive approach in the final session of the first day cost them dearly on the second morning. Saurabh Tiwary plundered nine fours and four sixes in 35 deliveries to surge to 238 from his overnight 175. Jharkhand's final two wickets lasted another 12.1 overs, and Tiwary's burst propelled them from 262 to 351.
Buoyed after nearly doubling their total from 180 for 8, Jharkhand came hard at Mumbai with the ball as well. Varun Aaron produced a furious pre-lunch spell of seven overs that accounted for Sushant Marathe and Wasim Jaffer. Jharkhand captain Shahbaz Nadeem sent back Aditya Tare and Abhishek Nayar to reduce Mumbai to 114 for 5. The last specialist batting pair, Hiken Shah and Suryakumar Yadav, halted the slide, their partnership growing to 96 by stumps, but bottom-placed Jharkhand were still favourites to take the lead against the group leaders with a buffer of 141 more runs.
Mumbai had placed up to eight men in the deep for Tiwary on the first evening, but began with only fine leg and deep point this morning. The belated aggressive approach was to hurt them further as they opened the day with the dollies of the left-armer Akbar Khan, officially the second seamer in the XI. Tiwary set the tone for an hour of manic hitting, crashing four fours and a six in what was to be Akbar's only over of the day. The first ball was eased through extra cover, the second tucked through midwicket, the third lofted straight down the ground, the fifth one swiped over the deep-midwicket boundary and the sixth lofted again over the bowler, with Nayar bringing everyone but fine leg up to deny Tiwary the single.
Even as a hapless Mumbai pulled the field back again, Tiwary rained more swipes and pulls on them, zooming from 175 to his maiden first-class double century in just 12 balls. After slog-sweeping left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar for two huge sixes, he missed a full delivery and was bowled for 238 off 299, having stretched the ninth-wicket stand to 154. His innings had 26 fours and 12 sixes, an incredible combination of disciplined leaving and power-hitting. Mumbai had targeted the No. 10 Shankar Rao by the spread-out fields for Tiwary but the fast bowler lasted more than three hours to remain unbeaten on 23 off 95.
Mumbai had over an hour to bat till lunch. Marathe, a wicketkeeper picked as a specialist batsman and playing a first-class match after two years, lasted two balls against Aaron. A full delivery moved in past a weak drive to uproot the stumps. Aaron was generating significant bounce and pace, and Jaffer flashed a cut at a lifter to edge behind for 1.
Aaron, returning from injury, was used quite sparingly after lunch and Tare fought back with a flowing knock of 67. His cover-driving off the front and back foot was commanding but he was to throw it away, having stabilized Mumbai to 114 for 3. A charge and a swing at Nadeem's left-arm spin ended in a mishit and a well-judged, back-pedalling take by substitute Rahul Shukla at mid-off. Nayar hung around for a while before he hit a clumsy drive for Jharkhand to grasp another difficult chance, this time the bowler Nadeem throwing himself to his right.
Most would have laughed before this game at the very thought, but at this stage, the defending champions were far adrift of the follow-on mark of 202 against a side promoted from the bottom group. Hiken and Yadav carried Mumbai past it with a calming partnership. Both defended solidly, Jharkhand's other two seamers Ajay Yadav and Rao trying but lacking Aaron's pace and sharpness.
Hiken, a usually composed batsman, drove elegantly through the covers while Yadav admirably reined in his tendency to go after everything. There was little help available for the spinners, and towards the end, Yadav started stepping out to whip the legspinner Samar Quadri through midwicket for fours. Both batsmen ended in their forties, but Jharkhand still have plenty to defend and a fresher Aaron waiting on the third morning.
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