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The Hindu
The Hindu
M.R. Praveen Chandran

Ranji Trophy | Mumbai leaves Kerala with a daunting task to win

A becalmed and dutiful accumulation by Mumbai batters on a pitch which is fast turning to be a spinner’s ally left Kerala with a daunting task of chasing 327 for a win in the Ranji Trophy match at the St.Xavier’s college ground here on Sunday.

The makeshift opening pair of Jalaj Saxena (12 batting) and Rohan Kunnummal (12 batting) had answers during the short passage of play in the final session. But the final examination on Kerala’s batting abilities will be on Monday and on a pitch where eight second innings wickets fell to spinners.

Jalaj completed a personal milestone by taking 100 wickets at the venue, and it rubbed on to his batting as he crossed double figures for the first time in this series. At stumps, Kerala was 24 for no loss and still has a mountain to climb.

Earlier, the overnight pair of Jay Bista and Bhupen Lalwani played unhurriedly and extended the opening wicket stand to 149. The hard-working M.D. Nidheesh surprised Bista (73) with steep bounce and was caught behind by Sanju Samson.

Bhupen (88) was upright and stroked the ball with elegance but he was beaten and bowled by a ball from Shreyas Gopal which kept a tad low. Mumbai went into the lunch at 197 for two.

The pitch changed its character after lunch under the blazing sun. There was sufficient help for the spinners and Jalaj found his rhythm. He snared captain Ajinkya Rahane (13) with a delivery that bounced, forcing the batter to fend a catch to leg slip. Suved Parkar (14) and Shivam Dube (1) left in quick succession as Mumbai slumped to 226 for five.

However, tenacious batting by the lower order propped up the Mumbai innings again, leaving Kerala frustrated.

P.Y. Pawar (35) and Shams Mulani (30) punished the loose deliveries to add 32 runs for the sixth wicket before Nidheesh cleaned up the former.

Jalaj breached Tanush Kotian’s defences but Mohit Avasthi (32) counter-attacked and along with Mulani added 37 runs for the eighth wicket. Sachin Baby took a stunning catch at short leg to dismiss Mulani off Shreyas Gopal. The leg spinner then prised out Dhawal Kulkarni (5) and had Mohit caught in the deep, slogging to end the innings for 319.

Mumbai-1st innings: 251.

Kerala-1st innings: 244.

Mumbai-2nd innings: Jay Bista c Samson b Nidheesh 73, Bhupen Lalwani b Gopal 88, Ajinkya Rahane c Vishnu b Jalaj 13, Suved Parkar c Baby b Jalaj 14, P.Y. Pawar b Nidheesh 35, Shivam Dube c Samson b Jalaj 1, Shams Mulani c Baby b Gopal 30, Tanush Kotian b Jalaj 3, Mohit Avasthi c Thampi b Gopal 32, Dhawal Kulkarni c Vishnu b Gopal 5, Royston H. Dias not out 0. Extras (b-8, lb-10, w-1, nb-3): 2 Total (in 97.4 overs): 319.

Fall of wickets: 1-148, 2-189, 3-205, 4-220, 5-226, 6-258, 7-265, 8-302, 9-314.

Kerala bowling: Thampi 16-3-47-0, Jalaj 31-5-80-4, Nidheesh 22.2-4-59-2, Shreyas 24.4-1-82-4, Suresh 3.4-0-33-0.

Kerala- 2nd innings: Rohan S. Kunnummal batting 12, Jalaj Saxena batting 12; Total (for no loss in six overs): 24.

Mumbai bowling: Kulkarni 3-0-16-0, Mulani 3-0-8-0.

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