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Lad, Nayar save Mumbai's blushes

Mumbai 171 (Tare 50, Sheth 5-50, Meriwala 5-62) and 260 for 7 (Lad 71*, Shaw 56, Rahane 45) drew with Baroda 575 for 9 declared (Swapnil 164, Waghmode 138, Shardul 3-95)
Scorecard

Mumbai scripted a great escape in the final session of their 500th Ranji Trophy game. The protagonists were Siddhesh Lad (71 not out), Suryakumar Yadav and Abhishek Nayar, who came up with plucky knocks, to ensure Baroda were forced to settle for three points after victory looked a foregone conclusion when Mumbai slipped to 125 for 5 in the first session after Ajinkya Rahane's dismissal.

Mumbai's lower order were at their resolute best right through a gripping last hour. Baroda summoned eight close-in fielders at one stage around Nayar. But not even vicious turn from the rough could trouble him for most parts. He eventually feathered one to the wicketkeeper to give Baroda hope, as Mumbai lost their seventh wicket with 10.5 overs still remaining. But the lower order hung on to salvage a point and keep their qualification hopes alive.

At 34, Nayar is Mumbai's senior-most player and he displayed the patience befitting his experience of 97 first-class matches prior to this. He made up for his injudicious stroke that brought about his downfall in the first innings by batting out 108 deliveries for his eight in the second, a knock that had 'khadoos' written all over it.

In Lad, the 25-year old middle-order batsman, he found an obdurate partner whose 238-ball knock helped restore parity - and much of Mumbai's lost pride - in what had been a largely skewed contest through the previous 10 sessions. Spanning the better part of two post-lunch and tea sessions, Lad saw off close to 35 overs that required calling nine Baroda bowlers into service. Unbowed and unbeaten, he fronted Mumbai's rearguard action on final day with a 15th first-class half-century that earned Mumbai a solitary point to now have 11 points from five matches.

Lad stemmed the transfer of momentum into Baroda's favour after Deepak Hooda brought himself on as the ninth bowler in the 77th over of the innings and sent back the resolute Suryakumar for a 132-ball 44. Lad didn't let the dismissal affect his concentration.

In a knock lasting over four hours, Lad received medical assistance twice for a likely back-strain before bringing up his fifty off 114 balls. In what could've been a turning point, he was reprieved on 57 barely minutes before tea when he was pulled one straight to short midwicket, only to hear umpire indicate left-arm Swapnil Singh had marginally overstepped.

The delivery, which was also the seventh front-foot no-ball in the session - proved to be a massive step back for Baroda, as was Swapnil's 31st and 34th overs, where he made the all of the deliveries zoom to tilt after pitching it outside Lad's legstump. Each of those were excruciatingly close to finding a nick from Lad or the top of his offstump as were Baroda to a momentous - and richly-deserved victory - until they ran into the famed stiff-necked temperament that Mumbai saved for the closing hours of their 500th.