The only interest left on Thursday (January 10), the final day of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal between Mumbai and Baroda at the Wankhede Stadium, was if Mumbai declared early and tried to force an outright win. But once it became evident that wasn’t part of their plan, the match was reduced to a dull affair. Mumbai progressed through to the semifinal on account of their massive 374-run first innings lead, where they will meet Services from January 16.
Mumbai, overnight 171 for one, would have hoped for more batting practice ahead of the semifinal, but once wickets started falling quickly, they decided it was well worth the effort to have their bowlers get some overs under their belt on a pitch which didn’t particularly assist them. They eventually declared at 295 for six at lunch, a lead of 669, with 54 potential overs to secure 10 Baroda wickets.
Baroda had reached 137 for three in 42 overs when the teams decided to shake hands, half an hour into the final session. Ambati Rayudu, who made an unbeaten 89 in the first innings, was batting on 19 while Kedhar Devdhar was not out on 6.
All three Baroda wickets fell to the spinners, with Ankeet Chavan picking up two, but not before Aditya Waghmode (60) and Saurabh Wakaskar (42) put together their second 100-plus stand of the match for the opening wicket. Waghmode played down the wrong line while Wakaskar holed out to mid-off, trying to clear the infield off Vishal Dabholkar. Even at 111 for three, there wasn’t any intent from Mumbai to attack, the match being called off before the start of the mandatory overs.
Earlier, Kausthub Pawar made up for first-innings disappoinment by notching up a patient 115, his second hundred this season and his fourth first-class century overall, before Baroda struck with a flurry of wickets.
Hiken Shah mistimed a slog sweep for 79, allowing Sachin Tendulkar another hit in the middle, much to the excitement of a few fans who had turned up at the stadium. He gave them hope with a six over long-on, but that was as long as the fun lasted. He was dismissed yet again by a left-arm spinner, Bhargav Bhatt this time drawing him into a forward defensive stroke only for the ball to turn sharply and take the outside edge on its way to an alert and agile Yusuf Pathan at slip.
Abhishek Nayar too fell in the quest for quick runs, caught superbly at silly point by Sahil Gupta, the substitute fielder, who showed quick reflexes to grab the leading edge. The day was reduced to a net session with bowlers hardly showing any intent and merely going through the motions.
Mumbai have plenty to take away from here to the semis, not least Wasim Jaffer’s excellent form. Jaffer followed up his 171 against Gujarat last week with 150 in the first innings, equalling Ajay Sharma’s record of 31 centuries, the most tons in Ranji history.
Tendulkar too made a polished hundred while Dabholkar, the left-arm spinner, sparkled with four wickets on debut. “He was exceptional. Coming into the first game, it is very special for a young guy (to perform like that),” said Ajit Agarkar, the Mumbai captain. “I am very happy. Just to hold up one end and get a couple of crucial wickets (is great). Everyone bowled well when they were given the ball.”
Mumbai, 39-time champions, will again be without Zaheer Khan in the semifinal. Zaheer, their pace spearhead, is recuperating from a calf injury at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.