MUMBAI: Going by their indifferent start, there were doubts whether 40-time champions Mumbai would be able to put up a decent fight against strong contenders Punjab in their Ranji Trophy preliminary league match here on Thursday.
Mumbai had conceded lead to Group B makeweights Andhra in their opening match while Punjab had thrashed Railways by an innings and 126 runs in Mohali. The visitors were considered favourites in the clash between two domestic heavyweights at the Wankhede.
However, the Doubting Thomases can take eat their words. Mumbai came up with a characteristic display to take early control of the match by bundling out Punjab for a meagre 154 in 57 overs on day one of the four-day game on Thursday.
The day belonged to medium pacers Shardul Thakur and Balwinder Singh Sandhu, who shared eight wickets between them, continuing with their good form from the season opener against Andhra at Vizianagaram. The Punjab batsmen showed poor application on a track that assisted seam bowling.
Put in to bat, Punjab started in an encouraging fashion when openers Manan Vohra (34) and Jiwanjot Singh (11) made a sedate start of 39, keeping the Mumbai bowlers at bay for 16 overs.
However, once Sandhu got the breakthrough with a one-handed return catch off Jiwanjot, it was a virtual procession of batsmen to and fro from the dressing room to the batting crease.
Gitansh Khera, one of four batsmen who played a triple figure knock in Punjab’s innings win over Railways in their group opener at home, made the second highest score of 32.
At lunch the visitors were 69 for three with skipper Yuvraj Singh at the crease but soon after the break he edged to his counterpart Tare behind the stumps off Sandhu.
In reply, Mumbai lost openers Shrideep Mungela and Akhil Herwadkar cheaply. But Shreyas Iyer played an attacking, unbeaten knock of 61 off 43 balls with 10 fours and a six, to help the hosts finish at a healthy 103 for two in 18 overs, looking good to go for the kill on Friday.
Brief scores: Punjab 154 all out (Manan Vohra 34, Gitansh Khera 32; S Thakur 4 for 47, Balwinder Sandhu 4 for 31) vs Mumbai 103 for 2 (Shreyas Iyer batting 61, Suryakumar Yadav batting 16).