Mumbai 228 and 208 for 3 (Iyer 82, Suryakumar 45*, Shaw 44, Gaja 3-54) lead Gujarat 328 (Parthiv 90, Juneja 77, Thakur 4-84) by 108 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Kishore: It's Mumbai's game to lose now
Shanshank Kishore review day 3 of the Ranji Trophy final between Mumbai and Gujarat in Indore
"All of you saw the kind of shots they played. Do you need to know what I thought of it? You can form your own conclusions." Those were the words Chandrakant Pandit, the Mumbai coach, used to sum up what he thought of Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav's dismissals in the first innings of the Ranji Trophy final. On Thursday, when Iyer and Suryakumar got together in the second innings, Mumbai were still trailing by 34 and had lost both their openers. The ball was still fairly new and RP Singh was controlling the swing like you would expect from someone of his experience and quality.
Iyer and Suryakumar are reputed to be big-match players, but also batsmen defined by the pace at which they drive the game forward. The situation now demanded patience. There was a deficit to wipe out; a lead to be built, a final to be won. They added 123 for the third wicket, and by stumps Mumbai were 208 for 3, having turned a first-innings deficit of 100 into a lead of 108.
Chintan Gaja sent back Iyer in the last half hour for 82, when a second successive hundred in a Ranji Trophy final was there for the taking. Yet at stumps the mood of the match had changed significantly. Gujarat had gone on the defensive and Mumbai were visibly happier than they had been 24 hours earlier. Aiming for a 42nd Ranji Trophy title didn't seem like a crime anymore.
Both batsmen curbed their instincts for two hours, leaving deliveries they would normally fancy themselves to drive. This was stonewalling at its best. They defended knowing Gujarat couldn't afford attacking fields for too long after the deficit was wiped out. Parthiv Patel, the Gujarat captain, endorsed that school of thought and slipped into a run-saving mindset. It may have yet worked.
The first sign of this came when he pushed point and midwicket to the boundary when the seamers bowled in the middle session. Then, towards tea, the left-arm spinner Hardik Patel began bowling well outside leg stump to try and frustrate the batsmen. Sensing an opportunity to score, and recognising how the mood had changed, Iyer swept, and ferociously at that.
When the line of attack slightly changed, he was happy to get outside the line of the stumps and hit over the top, and he hit three sixes, including one over long-on that brought him his half-century, off 101 deliveries. Suryakumar, all this while, was happy to pinch runs and watch his partner flay the bowling. In between, he tantalized with his wristwork and hand-eye coordination, which brought him five fours. Aditya Tare blunted the bowling for 25 minutes to end the day with Mumbai in control.
The Iyer-Suryakumar stand was preceded by a whirlwind start triggered by the 17-year old Prithvi Shaw. RP Singh was getting the ball to bend back in, and Mumbai lost Akhil Herwadkar to a slash pouched in the slips. Gujarat were on the attack. As was the case in the first innings, Shaw showed his range of strokes. But he also showed he's prone to the odd brain-freeze.
Having just hit three gorgeous fours - a punch past mid-off, a fierce square cut and a cover drive, all in one Rush Kalaria over - he waltzed down the track to slog Gaja across the line. He sliced it towards RP Singh at third man. A younger RP may have gobbled it up; instead the ball went to ground.
Shaw had struck four boundaries in the space of five deliveries. Mumbai had wiped out half of Gujarat's lead inside eight overs. He raced to 44, and looked good for more. Then came an ugly drive, his feet nowhere near the pitch, an edged swish against a full and wide delivery. In the first innings, he was put down at second slip when he played a similar shot. This time, Parthiv accepted the edge. At 66 for 2, Gujarat had the opportunity to go for the kill. But one partnership was all it took for the game to turn significantly.
Mumbai kept Gujarat's first-innings lead to 100 largely due to some incisive bowling with the second new ball. Shardul Thakur struck with the fifth ball of the day, getting Chirag Gandhi to nick to the slips. Rush Kalaria held his own for an hour to make 27 before Balwinder Sandhu picked up two quick wickets. The innings came to an end when Thakur, who finished with four wickets, sent back Hardik Patel in the day's 13th over. Gujarat had added only 37 for the loss of four wickets to give Mumbai the opening they needed.