Punjab 154 and 244 for 4 (Jiwanjot 91, Mandeep 82) trail Mumbai 569 for 8 declared by 171 runs
All the facets of an intense day of first-class cricket were on display on the penultimate day of Mumbai's Ranji encounter against Punjab. The quality of the game may not have been the best, but the manner in which both sides applied themselves, that too in scorching heat, deserved to be complimented.
It was such an intense day that after Punjab made 244 for 4 in their second innings, still 171 runs behind to avoid an innings defeat, neither side was completely satisfied. While Mumbai captain Aditya Tare felt "one more wicket" would have made it a perfect day for them, Punjab coach Arun Sharma thought the visitors lost "two wickets too many" in the last session.
Once Tare, after helping his team's lead cross the 400-run mark, declared the innings, Punjab knew they had to bat out almost for two days to avoid the ignominy of an innings defeat.
As an element of surprise, and taking a cue from Ankeet Chavan's second innings nine-wicket haul against the same opponents at the same venue three years ago, Mumbai started the innings with Harmeet Singh's left-arm spin along with Shardul Thakur's raw pace. While Harmeet could not provide the breakthrough, a wicket did eventually come from the other end.
Manan Vohra was adjudged caught behind down the leg side while attempting a flick off Thakur in the fifth over of the innings. While the bowler along with Mumbai's slip cordon went up immediately after the ball had rested in Tare's gloves, the batsman was taken aback with the decision of umpire K Srinivasan and made his displeasure known.
Vohra's wicket brought together Jiwanjot Singh and Uday Kaul. With the wicket hardly asking any questions of them, the duo - considered to be Punjab's stayers - did not really appear to be in trouble. While they kept the scoreboard moving before the break, Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Harmeet pulled things back after the break.
The first six overs of the second session saw just two runs being added. The tightness of the bowlers eventually forced a mistake from Kaul in the next over. Kaul's defensive prod off Harmeet resulted in an inside edge to Shrideep Mangela at forward short leg.
The rest of the session then belonged to Jiwanjot and Mandeep Singh, both of whom batted with discipline. Thakur, who had headed to the dressing room after feeling discomfort in his right leg in his fifth over, returned to bowl another spell, but none of the batsmen played a false stroke. Mandeep was fortunate for having seen two false strokes in a Harmeet over - a heave against the spin and an extravagant drive - dropping in no man's land. Barring that rush of blood, the duo saw out the session with little discomfort.
After doing the hard work in the first two sessions, it was up to both the batsmen to capitalise in the last session and reduce the deficit going into the last day. Instead, Jiwanjot threw his wicket away just after entering the 90s in the manner of a run out. After flicking Thakur through midwicket, Jiwanjot called Mandeep for a second run. Jiwanjot was a tad slow to turn back and Harmeet got such a perfect throw in from the deep that Tare only had to whip the bails in time. Even a desperate dive from the batsman was not enough to save his wicket.
Half an hour later, Mumbai got the bonus wicket of Yuvraj Singh. The Punjab captain got off the blocks quickly with a flick off Dhawal Kulkarni but he tried a paddled sweep off part-time offie Akhil Herwadkar, only to bottom-edge the ball on to the stumps.
Mandeep and Himanshu Chawla then looked in no trouble with the old ball as Mumbai hurried the over rate to use the new ball as early as possible on the last morning.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo