Until just after lunch on Day 1 at MCA’s BKC ground, the domestic giants, bouncing back to back-to-back wins in their opening two games, had Saurashtra on the mat, having fired half their side for 127 after the visitors chose to beat first.
With both the experienced Sheldon Jackson (caught back for 47, 71b, 5×4, 2×6) and Samarth Vyas (bowl, 0) succumbing to him, left arm spinner Shams Mulani was spitting fire on a spinning track and looking ready for another big haul.
However, standing firmly on the bridge stood the deputy captain of the ship Saurashtra Arpit Vasavada, who led Saurashtra’s superb riposte adding to the total with his invaluable partnerships with the lower order and the tail. After an unbeaten 127 that helped his side take the lead against Maharashtra in the last match, the 34-year-old scored a valiant 75 (155b, 9×4) and was the last to go after the score reached a worthy 289.
On a ‘rescue mission’ the veteran southpaw was aided by helpful contributions from Prerak Mankad (27), Parth Bhut (25), Dhamensinh Jadeja (24) and even No 10 Chetan Sakaria (19) – with whom the skipper added 28 from 32 for the ninth wicket to further frustrate the Mumbai bowlers.
“Our lower order batsmen always contribute with the bat. The way that wicket was, they contributed well,” Vasavada said later.
Clearly missed in-form out-spinner Tanush Kotian, who was ruled out on the morning of the match with a badly swollen finger, Mumbai struggled to get through Saurashtra’s bottom order cheaply.
The momentum shifted further to Saurashtra on the evening when they managed to knock out Mumbai’s two openers, Prithvi Shaw (4) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (2), in the first two overs of the innings.
In his third game of the season, Shaw had just 42 runs after 4 innings in his kit bag, at an abysmal 10.50 average. Extending his poor form, left arm tailor Sakariya beat him twice before tossing him on ball five of the Mumbai innings.
Saurashtra’s joy doubled when mid-paced player Chirag Jani broke Jaiswal’s stumps on the last ball of his opening over. Suryakumar Yadav (18 not out, 13g, 4×4) and skipper Ajinkya Rahane (12 not out, 24g, 2×4), who scored a double cent in the last game here, then calmed the team’s nerves with a flurry delicious limits.
Mumbai would bank on the in-form star duo to continue in the same fashion on Day 2.
Mumbai debut for versatile Musheer
Kotian’s injury and pacemaker Sidharth Raut’s exit due to the demands of a rotating track paved the way for a return of off-spinner Shashank Attarde and a well-deserved Mumbai debut for 17-year-old Musheer Khan. who has excelled in age group and local tournaments for the past two years.
With Musheer joining his elder brother Sarfaraz Khan in the side, Mumbai got two brothers in the XI after a long spell.
Short scores: Saurashtra 289 all in 79.1 overs (Arpit Vasavada 75, Sheldon Jackson 47; Shams Mulani 4/109) vs Mumbai 36/2 in 8 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 18 at bat, Ajinkya Rahane 12 at bat)