Ranji Trophy 2016-17 Semi Finals: Mumbai push ahead, Jharkhand in the driver's seat against Gujarat
Day 3 is often considered to be the moving day in any 5-day match, and more often than not it dictates the eventual result of the match. The ongoing semi-final matches between Mumbai- Tamil Nadu and Gujarat-Jharkhand followed the same pattern.
While one hand, defending champions Mumbai gained a substantial first-innings lead and are now firmly in the driver’s seat, Jharkhand achieved a slender first innings lead, but Gujarat responded with aplomb in their second essay, and the match is firmly in the balance.
Mumbai vs Tamil Nadu
Mumbai began Day 3 at 171/4, and needed a solid partnership to assume control of the proceedings. However, the start was not entirely promising as Shreyas Iyer perished early on in the proceedings for 36. Tamil Nadu began to hope, but then the combination of Abhishek Nayar and Aditya Tare decided to dig in and all the attributes of Mumbai batting came to the fore.
They were solid in their defence but kept putting away the poor balls and put together an invaluable partnership of 121 for the sixth wicket. Mumbai gained the first innings lead and were firmly in control of their fate.
However, the captaincy of Abhinav Mukund was rather tepid right throughout the day and it could be said that he allowed the Mumbai batsmen to get away and get going. The progress of Tamil Nadu in the season could be attributed to the success of the fast bowling contingent which has taken more than 100 wickets. Thus, Mukund’s decision to delay taking the second new ball was a rather confounding one.
He eventually did take the new nut in the 99th over but handed it to Baba Aparajith instead of the regular seam bowlers. Aparajith accounted for Nayar, but it was a lucky break to say the least as the ball scooted along the surface and trapped the left-hander in front of the stumps.
Tare was dismissed shortly after, but the Mumbai tail wagged and the lower order batsmen put a price on the wickets and almost deflated the Tamil Nadu bowling attack. Shardul Thakur hung in a scored a defiant half-century.
Vijay Shankar was the pick of the bowlers for Tamil Nadu and he prized out 4 wickets with his late outswingers and kept the batsmen honest at all times.
At the end of Day 3, Mumbai galloped ahead and are now bossing the game with a lead of 101.
Tamil Nadu have all the running to do, and now their batsmen would have to bat with a lot of purpose if they are to force a result in the match.
Brief Scores: Tamil Nadu- 305, Mumbai- 406 (Aditya Tare: 83, Vijay Shankar: 4-55)
Gujarat vs Jharkhand
Jharkhand continued their impressive run this season and edged marginally ahead of Gujarat and gained a crucial first innings lead of 18, which is one of the landmarks to be achieved in a knockout match.
Resuming the day at 214/5, Jharkhand needed to conjure their fighting spirit in order to surpass Gujarat’s first innings total of 390.
Middle order batsman Ishank Jaggi stole the show as he scored a classy century and shepherded the lower order with distinction. Jharkhand eclipsed Gujarat albeit by a very slender margin. However, in the larger scheme of things, this could prove very crucial.
RP Singh continued his fine match and ended with figures of 6 wickets for 90 runs.
In response, Gujarat were handed an early blow when in-form batsman Priyank Panchal was run out for just 1. However, Samit Gohel and Bhargav Merai put together a defiant 2nd wicket partnership and also scored at a fair clip to put Gujarat back on track.
Shahbaz Nadeem castled Merai towards the fag end of the day and then dismissed captain Parthiv Patel to drag Jharkhand just ahead at the end of the day.
Nadeem was now in his groove and accounted for opener Gohel too, and put Jharkhand firmly on top. With the pitch offering assistance to the spinners, Nadeem can be quite a handful on Day 4 with his accuracy and canny variations.
Gujarat ended the day at 100/4, and lead by 82 runs.
Day 4 promises to be one intriguing affair.