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Mumbai press on

india Updated: Jan 14, 2009 01:26 IST
G Krishnan

Uttar Pradesh did not mind consuming time even if runs came at a snail's pace. They had no option but to safeguard their wickets. Having allowed Mumbai to add 104 to their overnight 297 for six rather than polishing off the tail early, UP's prime objective was to build partnerships.

With the pitch offering little assistance to the bowlers, UP's semifinal hero Shivakant Shukla and his captain Mohammad Kaif played in a relaxed manner, happy to take runs through the open spaces and interspersing attacking shots with defensive play.

Uttar Pradesh scored at a rate of 1.9 runs an over that put to sleep many at the stadium, and at 91 for three in 47 overs, still trail by 311 with three days remaining.

Beginning their reply to Mumbai's 402 fifteen minutes after lunch, UP got off to the worst possible start. Tanmay Srivastava withdrew his bat late at a Zaheer Khan short delivery outside off stump and the faint nick was heard by umpire Shahvir Tarapore. The next ball, Suresh Raina, one of UP's more dependable batsmen, was run out by a direct throw from Sairaj Bahutule at covers. Srivastava could have left the ball alone and Raina need not have scampered such an urgent single.

From 6 for 2 in the third over, Shukla and Kaif stayed put, not giving in to the star-studded Mumbai attack. Kaif was shaky initially, getting inside and outside edges to Dhawal Kulkarni, Mumbai most successful bowler this season with 37 sticks.

However, once he gained confidence with a cover-driven boundary off Kulkarni, there was no stopping him and Shukla.

The lack of assistance from the pitch had made the Mumbai bowlers including Zaheer look pretty ordinary.

It was in these circumstances that even half chances sho uld be converted into catches. Mumbai are paying a price for dropping Shukla on 18 (UP 49 for 2), though Ajinkya Rahane at gully made a valiant effort, Agarkar being the unlucky bowler.

As the third-wicket pair looked to consolidate came a shocker from umpire Amish Saheba.

He ruled Kaif caught behind off Zaheer when the right-hander tucked his bat behind the out going delivery, the ball nowhere near the bat.

The onus is now on the last match centurions Shukla and Parvinder Singh to repeat the match-saving act.

Earlier, Mumbai's last four wickets, led by Rohit Sharma (141) lasted more than a session with Agarkar (47) and Zaheer (33) adding useful runs. Even Kulkarni contributed, adding 44 with Zaheer for the last wicket.