Ojha fights but pacers help Mumbai take control
Madhya Pradesh 197 for 5 (Naman Ojha 79*, Harpreet 36, Sandhu 2-41) trail Mumbai 371 (Iyer 90, Tare 68, Lad 60, Sakhure 5-127) by 174 runs
A patient unbeaten 79 from Naman Ojha kept Madhya Pradesh's flame burning in their semi-final clash against Mumbai at the DRIEMS ground in Cuttack. MP wobbled their way to 197 for 5 at stumps, still trailing Mumbai by 174 runs, with Ojha and Ankit Dane having put together an unbroken 60-run stand when play ended.
Mumbai added 44 runs to their overnight total of 327 for 7; Shardul Thakur and Balwinder Sandhu, their new-ball pair, chipping in with 27 and 21 not out respectively to shore up the total. Puneet Datey, the medium pacer who went wicketless on the opening day, returned to dismiss Siddhesh Lad (60) and Thakur (27), while Chandrakant Sakure, playing in only his second first-class game, picked up the wicket of Badre Alam to finish with 5 for 127. It also happened to be his maiden five-for.
MP lost their openers, Jalaj Saxena and Aditya Shrivastava, with just 20 runs on the board, with Alam and Sandhu picking one wicket apiece in their opening spell. Rajat Patidar led a brief recovery, making a 115-ball 33, before Mumbai hit back with two wickets in as many overs.
Patidar was bowled by Iqbal Abdulla, the left-arm spinner, to break a 55-run stand for the third wicket. Nine balls later, Devendra Bundela, MP's captain and most-capped player, was dismissed by Abhishek Nayar to leave them precariously placed at 78 for 4.
Ojha then drove the game forward, hitting 11 fours in his 182-ball vigil, even as he saw the in-form Harpreet Singh fall to Sandhu for 36. But the sixth-wicket pair of Ojha and Dane showed some fight by batting out the next 15 overs as MP lived to fight another day.