Gujarat 291 for 6 (Gandhi 17*, Kalaria 16*, Nayar 3-80) lead Mumbai 228 (Shaw 71, Suryakumar Yadav 57, Gaja 2-46, RP Singh 2-48) by 63 runs Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Kishore: Neither team seized big advantage
An over-aggressive approach to batting on a seaming deck often comes with a rider. When it pays off, like it did for large parts of the day for Gujarat, it looks extremely efficient and helps batting teams drive the game forward. But the flip side is it keeps the opponents alive with the hope that the odd mistake could potentially break open the game.
On Wednesday, two such mistakes - a waft outside off from Parthiv Patel on 90 and an attempted pull from Manprit Juneja off a skiddy bouncer - resulted in Mumbai clawing back to restrict Gujarat to 291 for 6, their lead 63 at stumps on the second day of the Ranji Trophy final in Indore.
Juneja's dismissal on 77 was controversial, however, and came at a time when Gujarat were looking to rebuild after wiping out the deficit. While the shot wasn't on - he was trying to fetch the pull from outside off - Shardul Thakur had clearly overstepped. Third umpire K Srinath, who took a while to arrive at the decision after looking at a number of replays, felt Thakur's front foot was behind the crease.
Rush Kalaria and Chirag Gandhi helped Gujarat ride the after-effects of three stinging blows, including that of Rujul Bhatt. At the end, Gujarat will still be the happier side, even if just marginally ahead.
The day began on a rather quiet note for Gujarat as openers Priyank Panchal and Samit Gohel made run-scoring look difficult. Credit where due, of course, to Thakur and Balwinder Sandhu, Mumbai's new-ball pair, who kept jagging the ball both ways.
By being diffident, Gohel didn't help Gujarat's cause. The first five overs produced just two runs. The urge to get the scorecard moving drew a tentative push that had Suryakumar Yadav diving low to his left to pouch one at second slip in the 11th over. Panchal, the season's highest run-getter, was equally fidgety at the other end and was probed repeatedly outside off by Abhishek Nayar. After two near misses, he nicked a third and Mumbai were rewarded by his persistence.
Two down for not many in a big final, the pressure of having to set up the game against a side that has a history of comebacks may have forced players to tread a path of caution. Not Parthiv, who came out with a fine counter-attack, along with Bhargav Merai, and take the attack to the bowlers. On 20, Parthiv was lucky to survive a healthy edge through to Tare as Thakur, who celebrated with gusto, was soon told he had overstepped. That was the release he needed to power ahead, with the lunch break coming to Mumbai's rescue.
There was drama immediately after the break when Nayar induced an edge off an attempted cut from Merai. The fielders went up in an appeal, only for umpire Anil Chaudhary to turn it down. The decision didn't cost Mumbai much as Merai fell soon after for 45 to give Nayar his second wicket. The game was in the balance. Another wicket there may have stirred the contest further. This was precisely the moment Parthiv and Juneja seized.
By scoring briskly - the half-century stand was brought up off just 63 deliveries and the century stand off 130 - both batsmen helped Gujarat get out of a tangle. Parthiv drove Nayar imperiously on the up past mid-off, and followed that with a cover drive to ease his way in, while Juneja profited from the area behind the wicket to begin with.
All this while, Aditya Tare, the Mumbai captain, was alternating between attack and defense. His move to introduce Vishal Dabholkar, one of two front-line left-arm spinners who was brought back in specifically for this game, as late as the 54th over was baffling. The field placement - just one close-in catcher at slip - was such that it seemed they were simply filling up to give the tiring pacers a break. This played into the hands of Juneja, who capitalised on the let off by Shreyas Iyer at midwicket on 15.
For a better part of two hours, Mumbai were on the defensive, before Parthiv's dismissal with Gujarat trailing by just two runs turned the game around. From there on, the final session was back to being an engaging contest where the ball beat the outside edge more than it hit the middle. In the last half hour, the intensity of the contest may have even drained Tare, who reprieved Gandhi off Sandhu while attempting a reflex action catch diving to his right. Given how his bowlers came back, Tare would hope it wouldn't prove too costly.