Misfiring batting leaves Mumbai in a hole
Gujarat 90 for 2 (Gohel 36*, Merai 37) trail Mumbai 154 (Pawar 37, Abdulla 30, Akshar Patel 3-32) by 64 runs
Coming into their final league match, Mumbai were in a tight situation - needing a win if they wanted their fate to remain in their own hands - thanks in large part to their inconsistent batting. Their batsmen failed again, and handed Gujarat the advantage on the opening day at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Valsad.
With fog enveloping the stadium, the toss was delayed by 40 minutes. This might have left a bit of dew on the surface, but Mumbai still preferred to bat, with three spinners in their XI and cracks visible on the pitch. The strategy required Mumbai's batsmen to respect the bowling, especially when their progress to the knockouts, unless they won, would depend on what other teams did.
But barring opener Kaustubh Pawar, who held one end together for most of the innings, no other Mumbai batsman seemed to put a price tag on his wicket. Mumbai folded for 155, before Gujarat batted more sensibly to reach 90 for 2 at stumps. If Samit Gohel and captain Parthiv Patel bat through the first session on the second day, they might well put Mumbai on the brink of the exit.
Stand-in captain Wasim Jaffer quickly got off the blocks, striking three elegant boundaries before the umpires stopped play after seven overs due to fading light. In the fourth over after resumption, Jaffer glanced Ishwar Chaudhary and Parthiv dived to his left to take an excellent catch. Five balls later, D Subramanian shouldered arms to one from Jasprit Bumrah that pitched outside off and jagged back sharply to remove the bail.
Throughout his morning spell, Bumrah troubled Pawar with his incoming deliveries. However, the opener hung on and along with Hiken Shah saw off the new ball. Just when Shah was looking good, he was caught by Manprit Juneja at short point off part-time seamer Bhargav Merai to leave Mumbai 39 for 3.
After taking successive boundaries off the back foot off left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhurv in the second over after lunch, Aditya Tare edged a drive off Chaudhary to wicketkeeper Parthiv, to fall for a 17-ball 13.
Considering Suryakumar Yadav's tendency to fiddle outside off early in his innings, Parthiv brought Bumrah back on and Yadav fell into the trap, offering Parthiv a regulation catch. Pravin Tambe's wicket soon after left Mumbai in danger of being bowled out short of 100.
Then came the most convincing knock of the innings. All-rounder Iqbal Abdulla, recalled by Mumbai, joined Pawar and began timing the ball sweetly from the outset, making it appear as if he and Pawar were playing on two different pitches. The highlight of Abdulla's cameo was an over in which he went after Bumrah, finding the boundary four times with two square cuts either side of successive pull shots.
Abdulla then went for a single that was never there off left-arm spinner Akshar Patel and found himself well short of the crease. Pawar was the ninth man dismissed, thanks to an excellent one-handed catch by Gohel in the slips, before Javed Khan struck sixes to take Mumbai past 150.
That was well short of the desired total. Mumbai will hope they will still have a total to defend if their spinners are to come into the game in the fourth innings. While Pawar conceded after stumps that "lack of partnerships" hurt them, Gujarat coach Vijay Patel said Mumbai's batsmen had lacked application. "They appeared to be in the Twenty20 mode, so it ended up helping us," Patel said. "Such a wicket, especially with the helpful conditions for seamers up front, required batsmen patience from batsmen. While our batsmen did it in the last session, Mumbai's players just didn't apply themselves."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo