Mumbai reach Ranji Trophy semis on basis of first-innings lead over Baroda | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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Ranji Trophy: Tailenders Tanush Kotian, Tushar Deshpande match all-time first-class record as Mumbai reach semifinal

Feb 27, 2024 08:36 PM IST

Tanush Kotian, Tushar Deshpande hit centuries in a rare effort as Mumbai edge out Baroda on first-innings lead and enter semis.

Mumbai No.10 Tanush Kotian and last man Tushar Deshpande struck centuries to share a rare first-class record as their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Baroda ended in a draw on the fifth and final day here on Tuesday. Mumbai went through on first-innings lead and will face Tamil Nadu in the semi-finals here on March 2.

Tanush Kotian and Tushar Deshpande hit centuries
Tanush Kotian and Tushar Deshpande hit centuries

Pouncing on a tiring Baroda bowling attack, Kotian hit an unbeaten 120 off 129 balls (10x4, 4x6) and No 11 Deshpande scored 123 (129 b, 10x4, 8x6). It was only the second instance in first-class cricket where the last two batters have scored centuries. Chandu Sarwate and Shute Bannerjee were the only pair to have achieved the feat, against Surrey on India's 1946 tour of England.

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When Tushar hit his eighth six, he broke the Ranji record for the highest score by a No.11 batter which was held by Tamil Nadu’s Vidyut Sivramakrishnan, who hit 115 versus Delhi in 2000-2001.

“The pitch was way too good for Day 5, so the plan was to play on the merit of the ball. Once we realised there were many loose

balls on offer, we decided to accelerate," said Deshpande.

Kotian and Deshpande put on a 232-run partnership, missing out on equalling the Ranji record for the last wicket by one run after Deshpande was out at the total of 569. Delhi's Ajay Sharma and Maninder Singh hold that record, 233, made against Mumbai in the 1991/92 season at the Wankhede Stadium.

“We got to know about the record when we were very close to it, but these are all materialistic things. We are very happy we could play to the merit of the ball and take the game completely away from the opposition," said Deshpande.

Mumbai, having secured the vital first-innings lead, were down to the last pair overnight. Having extended the lead past 400 on Day 4, Kotian and Deshpande hammered 190 runs in 30 overs on Tuesday. Baroda, with any hope of chasing down a fourth-innings target extinguished, looked demoralised.

Baroda left-arm spinner, Bhargav Bhatt, the best bowler in the game with 14 wickets, went for 200 runs in the Mumbai second innings.

He was exhausted after marathon spells of 42.4 overs and 52 overs. Left-handed Deshpande, the Mumbai pacer, smashed Bhatt for six sixes and two fours. The Chennai Super Kings player said: “Nothing like IPL practice and all. Their left-arm spinner was bowling, so I took my chances.”

Kotian has got out in the 90s on a couple of occasions. “I had 10 fifties before this game and it was a crucial innings because of the timing. I was talking to Tushar and planning on which bowler we can go after," he said.

Kotian’s ability with the bat is well known, having played crucial innings for Mumbai time and again. He bats in the lower order but was pushed to No 10 after Mohti Avasthi went in as nightwatchman.

Deshpande said: "I have that (batting) ability. My father believes in me a lot. He still feels I can be a very good all-rounder. I haven’t been able to apply myself so well. Today I showed that if I play with the straight bat, I can score runs too."

Baroda, left with an impossible target of 606, agreed to end the game at 121/3 after 30 overs.

SHREYAS FOR RANJI SEMIS

Mumbai will be bolstered with the return of Shreyas Iyer for the semi-final against Tamil Nadu. There has been intense scrutiny over players skipping Ranji and prioritising IPL preparation with Iyer and Ishan Kishan in focus.

Iyer played one game for Mumbai, against Andhra, this season before joining the India squad for the first two Tests against England. Following flopping in both games, he was not picked for the third Test. Mumbai selectors asked Iyer if he was available for the quarter-final tie, but said he wasn't fully fit.

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