Ajit Agarkar is relishing his return to Ranji cricket. After claiming a five-for on Friday, the mercurial all-rounder hit a half-century on Saturday as Mumbai gained a stranglehold on their five-day Ranji Trophy Elite Group semi-final against hosts Baroda. When play ended on the second day, Baroda, who had conceded a 260-run first-innings lead, were in dire straits at 16/1 in their second essay.
Mumbai, who resumed on 138/3, lost overnight not out batsman Nishit Shetty early. He made 74. But with Bhavin Thakkar (77) and Ajit Agarkar (65) following in Shetty's footsteps, the powerful Mumbai team were not to be denied a massive lead. By the time the last wicket fell with Mumbai's score reading 360 all out, the outcome of the match had almost certainly been sealed. For Baroda, Zaheer Khan toiled gamely, claiming five wickets. Tushar Arothe, who claimed three wickets with his intelligent spell of spin bowling, was the other successful bowler on the day.
When Baroda, who have made it to the Ranji finals in the last two seasons, began their second innings, they desperately needed an exceptional start if they were to mount an almost-impossible fightback. But the loss of the experienced opener Connor Williams put paid to those aspirations. At 16/1, they would now be looking to avoid the ignominy of an innings defeat.