Pathetic batting against a disciplined Delhi attack saw holders Mumbai surrender for 166 in their first innings on the opening day of the third round of the Ranji Trophy Super League Group A clash at the Wankhede stadium here on Friday.
In reply, Delhi were 159 for four at stumps, with left-handed opener Gautam Gambhir scoring an error-free unbeaten 81 in under three hours with a dozen fours. Giving him company was Rajat Bhatia (18 not out).
Mumbai have to only blame themselves after Amol Muzumdar won the toss and chose to bat. The surface was good to bat on. It only required the batsmen to show the right application in building an innings. Only Prashant Naik, playing his third Ranji game, showed that courage while making 40 (99b, 4x4, 1x6) in two and a half hours.
Delhi new-ball bowlers, left-armer Pradeep Sangwan and right-armer Ishant Sharma, troubled the Mumbai top-order repeatedly. They extracted good bounce from the surface. Sangwan was sharper, bringing the ball back in to the right-handers and foxing them repeatedly.
Sangwan struck in the very first over, Sahil Kukreja dragging onto this stumps. Ajinkya Rahane, who was opening for the first time in Ranji Trophy, looked completely out of sorts at the other end. Though Mumbai’s first 20 runs came in boundaries, most of them behind the wicket, Sangwan and Ishant consistently went for the kill. Ishant soon yorked the diminutive Rahane.
Much was expected from number three Rohit Sharma and skipper Muzumdar. But the duo too faced the music. Rohit looked set for the challenge when he sweetly pulled Sangwan for a boundary. But in the same over, he misread the accurate Sangwan and was trapped leg before.
At 32 for three in seven overs, Mumbai top order was exposed by two young turks. The hosts looked up to Muzumdar. The senior pro looked equal to the challenge in the half hour that he was in. But a brilliant catch by Virat Kohli at gully, plucking the racing ball off the ground with his left hand off medium-pacer Rajat Bhatia, brought a shocking end to Muzumdar.
With this, Mumbai’s back was up against the wall. Only Naik kept his cool and showed the right temperament required under the demanding circumstances.
His 53-run stand with Ajit Agarkar for the sixth wicket brought the only respect to the otherwise shabby card. Delhi took the catches that came their way while Mumbai, later in the day, floored two in Delhi’s knock.
Delhi’s debutant off-spinner Narinder Singh too had a good first day. Not having been given a bowl in the morning session as Virender Sehwag rolled his arm over and even claimed Abhishek Nayar to a reckless shot, Narinder got his chance straightaway after lunch.
In reply, Delhi began briskly. The left-handed Gambhir feasted on Agarkar’s wayward length, picking him for three boundaries between mid-off and point in the first over. It was vintage Gambhir from there on.
At the other end, Sehwag did himself no good by hanging his bat outside the off-stump against Nayar shortly after Salvi trapped an insecure Aakash Chopra, who was dropped on three by Naik off Salvi.
Mumbai’s extravagance came to the fore once again when Rahane grassed a chest-high chance offered by Kohli (on 10, Delhi 96/2) at gully off Nayar.
But Kohli and number four Mithun Manhas were dismissed in quick succession to give Mumbai a chance of coming back. But Gambhir had other plans.