Mumbai 199 and 21 for 0 trail Uttar Pradesh 250 (Raina 72, Kaif 64) by 30 runs
A double strike by Aavishkar Salvi reduced Uttar Pradesh to a shaky 13 for 3 before half centuries from Suresh Raina and Mohammad Kaif propelled Uttar Pradesh to a first-innings lead but Mumbai fought back through a three wicket haul from Ramesh Powar to restrict UP to 250 in their first innings. The Mumbai openers steered the side to 21, 30 runs still in arrears, by the close of play. It was a day of buzzing activity - a flurry of wickets at the start, a big partnership in the middle and then wickets went down in a heap again- as advantage swung both ways.
The young Raina, the left-hand bat averaging 72.40 this season, impressed with his temperament in a semi-crisis situation. On a wicket which aided a bit of seam-movement with the new ball Salvi removed Jyoti Yadav, the opener, and Praveen Kumar, the first-day hero with the ball, before Usman Malvi got rid of the 21 year-old Shiva Shukla to leave UP struggling at 13 for 3. It was then that Raina, who learnt his game under the tutelage of Deepak Sharma in the sports college in Lucknow in the late 90's, displayed his skill under duress and put up a solid consolidation job, along with Kaif, to rescue UP. Raina reached his half-century at the stroke of lunch and with Kaif just two-runs short of his, UP had reached 111 for 3 at the end of the first session.
Kaif, who missed out on the national duty in Pakistan, once again led from the front. He does not boast a great first-class record, averaging just 37.13 in 70 matches, but this season he has been in good nick, averaging 74.50 though he played in only two games. He has led from the front not only with the bat but has infused a fighting spirit in a beleaguered UP side that had a rough start to the season. UP lost the first two matches to Haryana and Baroda and drew their next two games, against Services and Punjab, before Kaif joined the camp to charge them to a place in the semi-final. Kaif guided his younger colleague and the duo kept the scorers busy - 100 runs of the partnership came in 138 minutes off 174 balls - before Raina was removed by Ramesh Powar at the score on 136.
The 36-times champions sensed blood and moved in for the kill. The tall Nilesh Kulkarni, the Mumbai captain and left-arm spinner, castled Kaif's stumps and 20 runs later, caught the veteran Gyanendra Pandey off Swapnil Hazare's bowling to push UP on the back foot at 180 for 6. But Rizwan Shamshad, no stranger to bail-out jobs, stuck in and put up a dogged innings (40 off 80 balls) to guide UP - with a little bit of help from Piyush Chawla, the 19-year old legspinner - to a valuable first-innings lead.
Powar, the man of the season for Mumbai with 37 wickets at 20.89, hastened the end, removing Chawla and Ashish Zaidi to finish with figures of 3 for 98 before Kulkarni got rid of Amir Khan, the wicketkeeper, to terminate UP's innings. Kharsan Ghavri, Mumbai's coach who felt his batsmen "threw their wickets away" in the first innings would be expecting a more determined performance tomorrow. The match is intriguingly poised and day three at Wankhede could well make or break both team's chances.