When Abhishek Nayar came out to bat on Day Four at the Holkar Cricket Stadium, Mumbai were 270 for five — a lead of just 170. When he left post tea after a fighting knock of 91, his team had 411 on the board, setting a target of 312 for Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy final. (SCORECARD)
Priyank Panchal (34) and Samit Gohel (9) started the chase on an aggressive note as they reached 47 for no loss in 13.2 overs at stumps when bad light stopped play in the extended last session of the day. It was a sensible start by both the batsmen, who unlike their sluggish approach in the first innings, played positive cricket.
Mumbai started the day from where they had left off — captain Aditya Tare looking to extend the lead and Suryakumar Yadav approaching the task in similar fashion. Twenty-five of the 30 runs were scored by Tare till the old ball was in play before Rush Kalaria removed Suryakumar (49) off the second delivery with the new ball.
It didn’t bother Tare who continued to play aggressively, aware of the importance of runs. Like most batsmen in the final, Tare was lucky on two occasions — once off Chintan Gaja when he was caught behind but the bowler had overstepped, and when he slashed hard and the ball went flying past Panchal at gully.
Tare reached his half-century in style but couldn’t build on it as he fell to Hardik Patel for the second time on 69.
With Siddhesh Lad back in the dressing room for 15, it was the beginning of a classic show from Mumbai’s ever-dependable Nayar.
Neither Balwinder Sandhu nor Shardul Thakur could provide support, but the veteran took it in his stride. He checked his shots, kept rotating the strike towards the end of the overs, and sneaked in the odd boundary.
Gujarat went on the defensive against Nayar, while attacking Vishal Dabholkar (12) and Vijay Gohil (0). Both the tail-enders stuck on and allowed Nayar to free his arms.
Skipper Parthiv Patel spread the field but there was no stopping Nayar. In five overs, he hit as many sixes even though there were nine men at the boundary.
Towards the end, he tried to smack one off RP Singh, missed it, and was adjudged leg before. Gaja was the pick of the bowlers, returning with best figures of 6/121.
While it will be the highest total chased in Ranji history if Gujarat manage to overhaul the target, the pressure of winning their maiden title will be there.