Gujarat v Mumbai, Ranji Trophy, Group A, Valsad, 4th day January 2, 2014

Abdulla takes Mumbai to knockouts


Mumbai 154 (Pawar 37, Akshar 3-32) and 273 (H Shah 48, Bumrah 4-68) beat Gujarat 253 (Gohel 58, Abdulla 6-42) and 147 (Akshar 65, Abdulla 5-44, Dabholkar 4-33) by 27 runs

Mumbai's spinners, led by Iqbal Abdulla, triggered a dramatic collapse on the final day in Valsad as Gujarat lost their last six wickets for only 12 runs. A place in the quarter-finals was at stake, but it was the defending champions Mumbai who escaped elimination in the group stage by defending a modest 175, winning a pulsating contest by 27 runs.

Resuming on 67 for 3, Gujarat were still comfortably placed after the first drinks break of the morning, following a streak of boundaries in the first half an hour, despite losing the overnight batsman Bhargav Merai. The excitement was evident as the Gujarat camp vociferously cheered every single by Akshar Patel and Y Venugopal Rao.

It was perfectly understandable as Gujarat were on their way towards only their third victory against domestic giants Mumbai, in the 59th match between the zonal rivals. Incidentally, the last time Gujarat had defeated Mumbai - then Bombay - it was at another ground in the same town, back in 1977. Gujarat had upset Mumbai by 225 runs and had advanced to the knockouts while Mumbai had been eliminated in the group stage itself.

Thirty-six years later, Akshar and Rao gave Gujarat a shot at repeating history and securing a place in the quarter-finals. At 135 for 4, a false stroke by Akshar changed everything. The left-hander, who had given Gujarat the upper hand with a fluent fifty, failed to connect a sweep shot off the part-time offspinner Suryakumar Yadav and was bowled. With Gujarat still needing 40 runs to win, Mumbai, for the first time, sensed they could pocket the match at the Sardar Patel Stadium.

Half an hour later, Manpreet Juneja, who had been battling rough form all season, offered a dolly to Hiken Shah off Abdulla for a duck. In Abdulla's next over, Rao was struck on the pads with a giant stride forward and was aghast to see the umpire upholding the appeal. Rao stood his ground in disbelief before trudging off.

Two balls later, Rakesh Dhurv tried to be too aggressive and ended up holing out to Shah at long-on off the left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar. Having lost two wickets for no runs, Gujarat had been reduced to 144 for 8. All their hopes rested on Chirag Gandhi, who was the last recognised batsman. However, Gandhi was soon undone by a quicker delivery from Abdulla that was full and trapped Gandhi plumb in front. The wicket give Abdulla his first ten-for in first-class cricket as Mumbai were just one wicket away from a memorable victory.

Six balls later, Dabholkar drew Jasprit Bumrah forward for Aditya Tare to complete an easy stumping. While the Gujarat dressing room was numb, the Mumbai camp rushed on to the field as if they had won the championship. However, having won a match in which they were down and out for most of the game and qualified for the quarters, they would now hope to convert their "lucky escape" and defend the title.

Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel conceded that his team threw away the match in the second innings. "We were placed in an excellent position midway through the match. However, first we conceded 40 to 50 runs extra to their lower order and then even after having eight specialist batsmen, we couldn't chase the target down," Parthiv said. "We cannot blame anyone but ourselves for the loss."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 4, 2014, 15:34 GMT

    Bengal has comeback well after rather sedate beginning...LR Shukla is leading a young team and if they can maintain the spirit shown in the last two matches they will be formidable for any opponents; players like Ashok Dinda, Shukla would like to show their mettle considering the rather debatable selection of some of the players for Kiwi tour ahead of them.

  • Dummy4 on January 4, 2014, 14:32 GMT

    I feel that Mumbai cricket is also undergoing a transition just like the indian team.with the absence of senior players like tendulkar,agarkar,ramesh powar and zaheer khan in the twilight of his career,it is the responsibility of young players like abdullah,dabholkar,shardul thakur,javed khan,saurabh netrawalkar to take the team forward.Thankfully,they have the old warhorse wasim jaffer to guide them.the future of mumbai cricket is gonna be really bright.all the best it for the 41st time and make me proud.:)

  • Dummy4 on January 4, 2014, 4:25 GMT

    j&k played very good in this seasion .why this team match is not live on tv.and this team players are not selected in ipl with out a one person that is parveez rassol only 2 matches played in ipl plz notic about this team and players proformes...... thanxxxxxz..

  • Android on January 3, 2014, 10:31 GMT

    Mumbai again shadows its champion fighting spirit... hats off to abdullah. with people like him around Mumbai cricket is in good hands

  • Dummy4 on January 3, 2014, 9:05 GMT

    I belive Pankaj Singh & Rishi Dhavan desrve more than anyone to be selected....

  • Cirano on January 3, 2014, 7:30 GMT

    @Ankush Kumar can you please tell me which team Rohit sharma belongs to?

  • Android on January 2, 2014, 20:05 GMT

    The Mumbai cricket domestic team should teach a thing or two to our national team. Phew! I have lost count on the number of occassions Mumbai has staged victories from the jaws of defeat. Mumbai is to cricket, what MU is to soccer. Proud 2 b a mumbaikar. Nail it guys!

  • Rayvolution on January 2, 2014, 18:17 GMT

    This street fighter attitude is exactly why Mumbai/Bombay have ruled Ranji Trophy through out history! Unfair though if existing players are dropped to make way for RS, AR & ZK for next game - since the latter have to eventually play the final incase! Hopefully Dhawal & Nayar would return in time. The batting has been a worry and time to get back SRT full time for the remaining games!

  • vikram on January 2, 2014, 15:38 GMT

    Well I think a statement of yesterday's comments towards the elevation of Iqbal now stands justified.

    Mumbaii feel will contend with fiery Karnataka, in a final if not before. The latter will be smarting from their unsuccessful ranji final chase against the former, in 2010 and seek vengeance. It's going to be a dramatic tourney! Punjab won't be easy meat this year. Feel they will be the only other side to challenge those two giants this year.

  • Syed Ibrahim on January 2, 2014, 14:50 GMT

    well done @iqbal abdullah & co. The main thing about this match is they didnot loose their hopes even though gujarat needing 40 runs.Yesterday itself i was sure that they can defend it and make it to Q/F & they did it. Unfortunately this match has no live telecast here otherwise it will be a great to watch this mumbai co stars.I hope u ll defend this title under the captaincy of highest run getter of Ranji season all the times.

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