Saurashtra hit back after Shreyas Iyer's ton
Mumbai 262 for 8 (Iyer 117, Suryakumar 48, Rathod 3-44, Jani 2-46, Unadkat 2-55) lead Saurashtra 235 (Vasavada 77, Mankad 66, Kulkarni 5-42, Thakur 3-89) by 27 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
There are those who take the pitch out of the equation when they bat. Then there are others whose presence makes the pitch look its lively best. On the second day, Saurashtra witnessed both as 40-time champions Mumbai lost a clutch of wickets after Shreyas Iyer's sparkling century, leaving the Ranji Trophy final delicately poised in Pune.
For an hour in the morning, Mumbai were rattled and perhaps even caught off guard by Jaydev Unadkat's late onslaught, a 26-ball 31 that lifted Saurashtra from their overnight 192 for 8 to 235. Then, his twin blows accounted for the Mumbai openers - Akhil Herwadkar (0) and Bhavin Thakkar (6). Iyer, who walked out in a pressure situation, countered with a fine blend of timing and power.
His sixth first-class century, with 15 fours and two sixes, made him the highest run-getter in a season for Mumbai in Ranji Trophy history. It helped them wipe out the deficit before a lower-order collapse left Mumbai at 262 for 8, with a lead of 27, when stumps were drawn.
Saurashtra, who could have been buried if not for Iyer's loose dismissal, would need to ensure they dismantle the tail cheaply and blunt the bowling on the third morning, when the surface is usually at its menacing best.
Time will tell whether Arpit Vasavada's dropped catch of Iyer could become the Indian version of Steve Waugh's famous line: 'you just dropped the cup, mate.' But there was no denying the fact that it had a big bearing on the turn of events. Mumbai were 0 for 1 when Iyer came out playing positively and were soon reduced to 23 for 2; he raced to 37 before nicking to second slip, where Vasavada grabbed at the ball, only to see it bobble out.
A third wicket just before lunch would have handed the advantage to Saurashtra but that missed opportunity punctured them. Over the next two hours and a bit, Mumbai showed why they bossed the domestic circuit. The surface did ease out as the day progressed, but not to the extent that Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav, who put together 152 for the third wicket, made it look.
While Mumbai's bowling attack had benefited from the persistence of Balwinder Sandhu and Abhishek Nayar, who played the holding role superbly to complement Dhawal Kulkarni, Saurashtra's attack started and ended with Unadkat during the course of the bludgeoning stand.
When Unadkat had the new ball in hand, it looked like the game was played on a different surface. He made deliveries hold their line to trouble batsmen. With the back-up bowlers Hardik Rathod, Deepak Punia, Chirag Jani and Prerak Mankad offering drivable deliveries at a friendly pace, it was a batting feast for Iyer, with Suryakumar providing able assistance.
But the ease with which Iyer was scoring runs, perhaps brought out one big hit too many and an attempted loft over the infield resulted in a miscue to mid-off, shortly before tea. Saurashtra's reaction - relief, and not elation at having dislodged the key batsman - summed up the state of the game. After the dismissal, however, Aditya Tare and Suryakumar, looked to sustain the healthy scoring rate, but a change of ball brought about a change of luck for Saurashtra.
Tare was consumed by late swing as the bat came down at an angle, leading to a nick to the cordon. Suryakumar continued the trend of edging behind as he poked away from the body to give Punia his first wicket. Nayar then made a streaky 19, surviving another dropped chance by Vasavada, before playing down the wrong line to a full ball. A wobble turned into a proper crisis when Kulkarni and Shardul Thakur were dismissed off consecutive deliveries from a fired-up Rathod.
The extent to which Saurashtra made up for lost ground became evident as Mumbai's batsmen started playing for time and light as the end of the day drew near.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo