Mumbai make semis on first-innings lead
Madhya Pradesh 192 (Birla 63, Kulkarni 5-74) and 474 for 3 dec (M Mishra 174*, Bundela 101*) drew with Mumbai 434 (K Pawar 161,
Chavan 102*, Sudhindra 5-96) and 113 for 1 (Pawar 52*, Waghela 51*)
Mumbai eased into another Ranji Trophy semi-final on the basis of a massive first-innings lead after their quarter-final against Madhya Pradesh ended in a draw on the fourth day in Indore.
On the final day, Mohnish Mishra led a dominating batting performance from MP and, with his captain Devendra Bundela, smashed the friendly Mumbai attack for 224 runs in just over a session. MP declared on 474 for 3 but Mumbai, with the security of first-innings points, were never going to go for the target of 233 in a minimum of 49 overs. The match ended at the start of the mandatory overs, by which time Kaustubh Pawar and Praful Waghela had scored fifties to lead Mumbai to 113 for 1.
The only source of interest at the start of the final day was whether MP would go for quick runs and set a target for Mumbai. They did not disappoint. Mishra and Bundela plundered at will on the flat pitch and Wasim Jaffer had nine fielders on the boundary for the major part of the first session. The batsmen still kept hitting the odd boundary, and Mishra smashed five sixes as well. Some of them were flat and clean strikes against the medium-pacers that cleared long-on.
With Dhawal Kulkarni resting ahead of the semi-final against Tamil Nadu because of a shin niggle, the Mumbai spinners did the bulk of the bowling. Ankeet Chavan bowled 40 overs for a return of 1 for 171. Mumbai were not thinking about taking wickets; their only consideration was to bat for as few overs as possible. MP helped them by batting on for a few more overs after lunch so that Bundela could get to his century. When the declaration finally came, Mishra was unbeaten on 174.
Pawar, who had rescued Mumbai in the first innings with a defiant 161, punched powerfully off the back foot for boundaries to sign off with a half-century in the second. The pitch looked good to last another four days; it was their indecisive batting on the first morning, when the surface was at its freshest, that ended MP's tournament.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo