Karnataka v Mumbai, Ranji Trophy, Bangalore, 2nd day December 23, 2013

Lad revives Mumbai with half-century

Mumbai 217 for 7 (Lad 59*, Khan 33*, Sharath 3-32, Gopal 3-52) trail Karnataka 251 (Rahul 133, Thakur 4-65) by 34 runs

On a day when most of his team-mates struggled to score freely on a greenish pitch in Bangalore, Siddhesh Lad batted for over three hours for a fighting half-century, and took Mumbai close to Karnataka's score of 251 on the second day. Lad was accompanied by No. 9 Javed Khan for a stand of 56, which allowed Mumbai to fight back after they were 136 for 6 at tea.

The day started with a dramatic first session in which six wickets fell for 62 runs. Karnataka, 228 for 7 overnight, lost Abhimanyu Mithun to a poor lbw decision in the second over of the day, the ball going down leg.

The big blow came when KL Rahul was run out for 133 going for the second, after debutant Saurabh Netravalkar sent an accurate throw from deep fine leg. The innings was wrapped up two overs later when Javed Khan took a diving catch at cover to dismiss KP Appanna, with Shardul Thakur picking up 4 for 65.

If Mumbai thought crossing 251 would be easy, the pitch and medium-pacer HS Sharath spoiled their plans. Vinay Kumar produced two thick edges in the first over, but both fell short of the slip cordon. Mithun also swung the ball, but the opening bowlers' first spells were unfruitful.

Openers Kaustubh Pawar and Aditya Tare started cautiously on a slow and low pitch, scoring at less than two-per-over. First change Sharath got a wicket only when he switched from the Pavillion End to the Far End. He first removed Tare with a ball that moved away from just outside off, with the batsman edging to Manish Pandey at third slip for 18.

The big blow for Mumbai came when Sharath brought a delivery in, in his next over, and trapped Wasim Jaffer right in front of middle for a four-ball duck. Mumbai were also a victim of a poor decision as Pawar was given caught behind, even though there was a considerable gap between bat and pad. That brought Mumbai down to 35 for 3, with Sharath finishing a spell of 4-3-1-3.

Suryakumar Yadav fell after a stand of 26 with Hiken Shah, trapped lbw by Mithun, but Mumbai resisted thereafter with a strong partnership between Shah and Lad. While Shah unleashed a couple of drives on the off side and used his feet effectively against the spinners, Lad rotated the strike and looked comfortable against both (medium) pace and spin.

Unable to break the stand for nearly 10 overs, Karnataka brought on debutant Shreyas Gopal, who bowled slightly flat, unlike a conventional legspinner. But it worked for him and even though he was smacked for a six over the deep midwicket boundary by Lad, he struck three times in his first spell.

Shah was caught at slip courtesy a terrific one-handed catch from Karun Nair, diving to his left. Debutant Doraiswamy Subramanian played a short and wide delivery outside off straight to Binny at backward point. A few overs later, Gopal foxed Thakur with a straight delivery which went right through the gate, and Mumbai were 161 for 7.

But Lad and Khan denied them any more success. They resisted the attack which lost Vinay Kumar due to discomfort in the ankle, and in only his sixth first-class match, Lad scored his third fifty with seven fours and a six, both of the front and back foot.

The pair treated Gopal with some disdain. Khan clobbered a six over long-on off Gopal, while Lad struck three fours in an over of his to reach his fifty. Mumbai were taken past 200 and when bad light stopped play with the score on 217 for 7, they were only 34 short.

Shah and Gopal agreed that the pitch was keeping low and was on the slower side.

"The pitch has slowed down now, it's not very easy to get wickets, at the same time not easy to score runs too. It's a very even pitch as of now," Gopal said. He felt Karnataka's bowlers could have done better, though. "We could have bowled a little better, with a little more discipline. But then a partnership is bound to happen at any level so we were prepared for it and probably if we get one or two wickets from now, we can seal it as soon as possible."

Shah, who scored 44, was pleased that Mumbai recovered after early fall of wickets. "I can't say we are well poised but we are in a fighting situation," he said. "There is not target set [in our minds], we're focusing on taking a first-innings lead, that the important thing."

Vishal Dikshit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo