Munaf and shot selection hurt Mumbai
Mumbai 218 for 6 (Tare 67*, Mangela 55, Munaf 2-35) v Baroda
Baroda took a calculated risk by deciding to switch the pitch for their penultimate Group A match, against Mumbai, less than 24 hours before the start of the match. The track they chose was of the slow-low kind, which is likely to get slow bowlers into the game in the latter half of the match. Mumbai somewhat negated that by winning the toss and batting, but then poor shot selection cost them at the Moti Bagh Stadium.
The Mumbai camp received a bigger blow even before the toss; Wasim Jaffer, who had missed five matches after fracturing his right index finger in the season-opener but returned for Mumbai's last game, was ruled out as a result of being hit on that same finger while batting on the eve of the match. This paved the way for Nikhil Patil's inclusion, eleven minutes before the toss.
Openers Mangela and Akhil Herwadkar managed the experienced new-ball duo of Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel effectively. On a track that hardly had anything in it for pace bowlers, both bowlers bent their backs to extract appreciable bounce but the left-handed duo of Mangela had Herwadkar left the ball really well.
The Mumbai openers were so cautious that the first 10 overs fetched just eight singles. It was only in the 13th over that the first boundary of the match was scored. Mangela flicked Irfan through midwicket for his maiden four in first-class cricket. Later in the same over, he played delightful square cuts that sped to the point boundary.
Herwadkar stepped out to Yusuf Pathan's offspin in the 16th over to punch him through the leg side and open his boundary account. He followed it up with a spanking cover drive in the same over.
Just as the duo had started to score freely, Herwadkar attempted a slog off left-arm spinner Swapnil Singh and missed to see the ball crashing into the stumps. Shreyas Iyer, Mumbai's highest run-getter this season, then found the going tough. While Mangela had started playing even more confidently, Iyer struggled to get used to the nature of the surface.
Iyer likes to play his shots but he couldn't really get accustomed to the pace of the slow track. His short stint at the crease had him playing too early to the spinners. His misery was eventually over minutes before lunch; Munaf was brought on for a short burst and he forced a nick from Iyer to Pinal Shah behind the stumps.
Munaf kept his intensity up ever after the break and bowled the spell of the day. Soon after he saw Mangela driving him straight behind his back for his eighth four and raising the bat for a deserving fifty, Munaf extracted a top edge that rested in Swapnil's palms at gully. Munaf's second spell, spread over either side of the lunch break, read 8-3-18-2.
If the Mumbai batting line-up wasn't pegged back enough after Mangela's dismissal, it received a crucial blow ten minutes before tea. Suryakumar Yadav was lucky early on in his innings when Swapnil made a mess of a regulation chance at gully off Irfan. Yadav couldn't capitalise on the chance as he nicked Yusuf to Shah on the cusp of break.
Mumbai were in danger of being bundled out for a paltry total but Tare, who hardly played a false stroke during his patient three-and-half hour knock, then found a brief ally in Siddhesh Lad. Just as the stylish Lad had started looking solid, though, miscued a slog sweep off a full-toss from left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt towards Yusuf, who took a neat catch running a few yards backwards.
To add to Mumbai's woes, Irfan trapped Patil in front of the wickets in the penultimate over of the day. That means Mumbai's long tail will be exposed on day two.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo