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Ranji Trophy: ‘Uninspired’ Mumbai shot out for 171 in 500th game

The much-vaunted Mumbai batting line-up came a cropper on a lively track against the Baroda pace bowling duo of Atit Sheth and Lukman Meriwala, as they were shot out for a paltry 171 on Day 1 of their 500th Ranji Trophy game.

cricket Updated: Nov 09, 2017 23:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Ranji Trophy,Ranji Trophy 2017-18,Mumbai cricket team
Ajinkya Rahane failed to score big in the first innings of Mumbai’s 500th Ranji Trophy game. (AFP )

After the grand celebrations to mark Mumbai’s 500th Ranji Trophy game, the opening day of the landmark match proved to be a bit of an anticlimax.

The Mumbai boys were expected to come out all inspired on Thursday morning, having been treated to some great stories of the past teams’ feats at the function held on the eve of the match against Baroda. Expectations were also high because the hosts were at full strength with Test star Ajinkya Rahane, rising star Shreyas Iyer and batting prodigy Prithvi Shaw all in their line-up.

However, Baroda’s young pace bowlers Atit Sheth and Lukman Meriwala stole Mumbai’s thunder with a fine exhibition of swing bowling, claiming five wickets each to bundle out the home team for 171 at the Wankhede Stadium. In reply, the visitors did well to reach 63 for one.

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It was a playing surface which required the batsmen to show a lot of application, but the batsmen failed to muster the ‘khadoos’ attitude which defines their seniors.

The day began with a felicitation function where the players were handed caps to commemorate the 500th game. But the celebratory mood was short-lived. Instead, all the focus was on the opposition — the conditions seemed to benefit Baroda as they quietly went about the job of dismantling the strongest batting line-up in the country.

UNKNOWN COMMODITY

Lagging behind in the race for the top two spots, the home team would have been happy to play on a track which provided assistance to the bowlers, as it increased chances of an outright win. After all, with Rahane, Shaw and Iyer in their ranks, they would be fairly confident of their batsmen dealing with the conditions and getting them the runs.

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But, all three failed. The dangers of coming up against an unknown commodity is well known, Rahane & Co got another lesson in that. Before this game, Sheth and Meriwala had played a combined nine first-class matches, and they sure surprised the famed batsmen with their ability to pitch the ball up, generate movement and bounce.

Mumbai were off to an ominous start when Shaw lost his middle stump on the fifth ball of the match, Rahane was caught at first slip for a duck in the third over of the day, after playing five balls, and soon Iyer was also caught in the slips playing away from his body.

The day could have been even tougher for Mumbai but skipper Aditya Tare profited from a dropped catch and chipped in with a half-century.

Taking the new ball, Sheth made the early inroads and then left-arm pacer Meriwala kept up the pressure from the other end.

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After the team was shot out for 171, the onus was on the more experienced Mumbai pace attack to help the team get back into the match. To the disappointment of the home team supporters, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shardul Thakur, Royston Dias and veteran Abhishek Nayar couldn’t hit the right lengths — which is the difference between being disciplined and incisive.

The Baroda top three were watchful enough to negotiate the period of play safely. Mumbai’s only success was when Dias had opener Ahmadnoor Pathan caught behind.

Pujara, Vijay shine

Cheteshwar Pujara scored his 43rd first-class hundred and Snell Patell his first, guiding Saurashtra to a comfortable 311 for one at stumps on day one of their Group A match against defending champions Gujarat.

On the other hand, Murali Vijay warmed up in style for the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka by scoring a century to help Tamil Nadu reach 292 for 3 against Odisha.

First Published: Nov 09, 2017 21:19 IST