Bengaluru: Madhya Pradesh openers Yash Dubey (11 not out) and Himanshu Mantri (31 not out) did well in seeing off the fast bowlers before getting runs against spinners to take the side to 43/0 in 16 overs at tea on day two of the Ranji Trophy final at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday.
After bowling out Mumbai for 374, with Sarfaraz Khan making a stunning 134, Dubey and Mantri were cautious against the Mumbai pacers. Dubey welcomed left-arm spinner Shams Mulani with a boundary, perfectly dissecting mid-wicket and mid-on. Then, it was Mantri’s turn to take on Mulani, dancing down the pitch and hitting him for back-to-back sixes. Mantri finished off a good session for Madhya Pradesh by driving Mulani through short cover.
Earlier, Sarfaraz’s run-making juggernaut continued with his fourth century of the ongoing, making a stunning 134 in guiding Mumbai to 374 in 127.4 overs. For Madhya Pradesh, Gaurav Yadav was the pick of the bowlers with 4/106 in 35.4 overs.
After being watchful on day one, Sarfaraz stood firm on day two and was rewarded for his perseverance with a stroke-filled 243-ball 134, laced with 13 fours and two sixes, lifting Mumbai from a tricky position to a competitive score.
On his way to 134, Sarfaraz crossed the 900+ runs mark in a Ranji Trophy season for the second time after amassing 928 runs in the 2019/20 season, becoming just the third batter after Ajay Sharma and Wasim Jaffer to do so.
Resuming from 248/5 on day one, Mumbai lost Mulani on just the second ball of the day when pacer Gaurav Yadav got one to jag back in and trap him plumb lbw. Sarfaraz first showed signs of shedding his cautious self when he sliced Gaurav over backward point for a boundary.
With Gaurav and Anubhav Agarwal keeping things tight, Sarfaraz was unable to get his shots and was stuck on 45 for long. As soon as left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya Singh got into the attack, Sarfaraz opened up by nailing a sweep over mid-wicket and reached his fifty with a single through the same region.
Sarfaraz continued to nail his sweep against Kartikeya while timing his straight down the ground drives. Though Gaurav took out Tanush Kotian’s off-stump with a peach of a delivery and Dhawal Kulkarni nicked to the keeper off Anubhav Agarwal, Sarfaraz continued to march forward despite having a nasty collision with Gaurav. He even brought out the ramp shot against Anubhav, with the ball going over the keeper and slips for a cheeky boundary.
Sarfaraz then reached his century in 190 balls by driving Kartikeya down the ground to complete a superb knock under pressure. His celebrations on reaching the three-figure mark ranged from being teary-eyed and punching the air in delight to bringing out the kabaddi thigh-five, met with thunderous cheers from the Mumbai camp and spectators in the stadium.
After reaching the century, Sarfaraz continued to attack Kartikeya, slog-sweeping him for a six over deep mid-wicket and was followed by Tushar Deshpande slamming a boundary down the ground as Mumbai fetched 103 runs in the session. Post lunch, Kulkarni nicked behind off Gaurav.
But Sarfaraz and Mohit Awasthi hit a six each off Saransh Jain over long-off, followed by the former taking a boundary off Gaurav. In an attempt to go big again, Sarfaraz went for it but sliced to extra cover.
Brief scores: Mumbai 374 all out in 127.4 overs (Sarfaraz Khan 134, Yashasvi Jaiswal 78; Gaurav Yadav 4/106, Anubhav Agarwal 3/81) lead Madhya Pradesh 43/0 in 16 overs (Himanshu Mantri 31 not out, Yash Dubey 11 not out) by 331 runs