Depleted Mumbai demolish Punjab to top group
Mumbai 430 (Jaffer 82, Powar 81, Rahul 3-129) and 132 for 1 (Waghela 57*, Jaffer 50*) beat Punjab 226 (Bipul 68, Sandhu 5-66) and 330 (Kaul 89, Sidhana 57, Chavan 4-64) by nine wickets
Ankeet Chavan, the left-arm spinner, struck four times in an extended morning session as nine-man Mumbai eased to the top of Group A with a nine-wicket demolition of Punjab. It was Mumbai's third win of the tournament, making them the only side in the 15-team Ranji Elite League to win more than two games. And it was achieved despite the loss of fast bowler Aavishkar Salvi and wicketkeeper-batsman Sushant Marathe, who were forced to pull out during the game with injuries, further depleting a side already missing key fast bowlers and batsmen.
Chavan ran through Punjab after a fruitless first hour for the hosts in which Uday Kaul and Bipul Sharma had added nearly 50 runs without any trouble. Ramesh Powar was getting the ball to turn, but slowly, and the batsmen were able to play length deliveries off the back foot easily. Bipul, who had resisted Mumbai in the first innings, was at it again, keeping the runs flowing with regular boundaries. With Kaul batting as safely as he did on day three, Mumbai could do little but wait for the mistake from the batsmen.
Bipul gave the hosts the opening in the 76th over when he charged out at Chavan only to be beaten in the flight; the mishit could not clear mid-off and Punjab were effectively 48 for 5. Chavan was now flighting the ball generously and soon removed Punjab's last two specialist batsmen, Karan Goel and Kaul. Goel was caught at short leg as he pushed forward while Kaul's five-hour vigil ended when he turned a dipping delivery to midwicket.
Rahul Sharma smacked Ramesh Powar for a couple of sixes but the offspinner had him stumped off a drifting straighter one. Punjab managed to go past 300 but Chavan struck again when he had Harmeet Singh edging to slip. The first session was extended to three hours but the last wicket frustrated Mumbai for 95 deliveries. Suryakumar Yadav finished the innings in his first over of loopy offspin, having Baltej Singh edging one for keeper Hiken Shah to take a tumbling catch after juggling the ball several times.
Mumbai lost only Kaustubh Pawar in their chase of 127, with Wasim Jaffer and Praful Waghela making unbeaten fifties as the hosts knocked off the runs in 23.3 overs.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo