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Report: QF - Mum vs Mah, Day 2

Shardul Thakur puts Mumbai in charge

Shardul Thakur’s four-wicket haul, complemented by the rest of the bowling attack, tipped the balance in Mumbai’s favour at the end of the second day of the ongoing quarter-final clash. Maharashtra were trailing by 183 runs in the first innings with three wickets in hand at stumps, with Shrikant Mundhe (14) and Akshay Darekar (16) at the crease.

Bowled out for 402, Mumbai claimed three early wickets to push the visitors on the back foot. Shardul Thakur, opening the bowling with Zaheer Khan, dismissed Rohit Motwani for zero in the second over. And 17 runs later, he sent back the tournament’s highest run-getter, Harshad Khadiwale, for four. Vijay Zol, who had worked his way to 15, was soon dismissed by the ace pacer – an incoming delivery struck the top of off-stump and dislodged the bail to send back Maharashtra’s No.3.

With the team struggling on 24 for three, Ankit Bawne launched into the Mumbai attack. A tough chance in the slips saw the batsman survive while on five. However, with an array of back-foot strokes he smacked Javed Khan for four boundaries in an over to collect 16 runs off it. And soon after drinks, he was granted another life when he was caught at third-slip by Indulkar off Thakur, albeit off a no-ball, while on 35.

Although the Mumbai bowlers created a few chances, the middle-order batsman went past his half-century, while Kedar Jadhav played a supporting role. They carried the innings forward and without losing any further wickets, they took the team to 122 at tea.

However, in the third over of the last session, Jadhav was out immediately after reaching his 50, thereby ending the partnership for 115. Vishal Dabholkar, who was introduced into the attack late in the second session, got the better of Jadhav to send him back for 51.

With Sangram Atitakar for company, Bawne then took his team past 150. Bawne’s innings eventually ended for 84. Thakur, who had kept the Maharashtra batsmen on a tight leash, accounted for Bawne’s wicket.

Atitakar, who had survived a chance while on five off Thakur, was caught by Indulkar in the slips after edging the pacer. At 170 for six, Shrikant Mundhe joined Chirag Khurana in the middle.

A relentless Thakur kept hitting the deck hard as Mumbai looked to wrap up the visitors’ innings. Mundhe and Khurana rallied on, but Javed Khan struck to remove the latter. Kaustubh Pawar pulled off a diving catch at gully to give Javed his first wicket of the day.

With Mumbai in a dominating position, Akshay Darekar made his way to middle late in the last session of the day to lend support to Mundhe. The duo negotiated the Mumbai pacers to take their team to 219 for seven at the end day’s play.

Earlier, led by Iqbal Abdullah, the Mumbai lower-order added 96 runs to their overnight total, before being bowled just prior to lunch. Anchoring the innings, Abdullah was stranded on 49 as Dabholkar was trapped leg-before without adding to the total.

After getting breakthroughs towards the end of the first day, the Maharashtra bowlers could not build on the pressure in the morning and allowed the hosts to garner runs.

Zaheer, who had kicked off the session with Abullah, gathered a valuable 39 runs before edging Mundhe to Khurana. He had earlier pilfered 14 runs off Khurana, hitting the bowler for two boundaries and a six; he was also dropped by Jadhav. Javed, who replaced him, added 14 before hitting the ball back to Akshay Darekar. With Mumbai on 397, Dabholkar joined Abdullah in the middle and in the last over before lunch he was removed by Fallah to bring Mumbai’s first innings to an end.

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Gavaskar appreciates Ranji coverage

Former India skipper reflects on the domestic circuit and performances

Former India captain and popular commentator Sunil Gavaskar is covering a Ranji Trophy match for the first time for broadcast. While speaking to the media during the quarter-final match between Mumbai and Maharashtra, he shared his experiences of analysing an international game vis-à-vis a domestic match. He also spoke about sharing the commentary box with his son and former cricketer Rohan Gavaskar while doing so.

While lauding the coverage of the premier domestic tournament, the former India opener even chimed in on Mumbai’s batting challenges this season and a lot more.   

Here are excerpts from Sunil Gavaskar’s media interaction:

On calling a Ranji Trophy match from the broadcast booth for the first time

In the commentary capacity, yes, this is my first Ranji Trophy match, but I have been to first-class matches after my retirement from cricket to watch – mainly in Mumbai, of course. I have been to Baroda often when Baroda or Bengal have been playing. But this is the first time I am doing commentary.

The difference really is that the buzz that international cricket like Test cricket or ODI cricket has – the buzz while coming to the ground, the crowd forming. There is a little sort of atmosphere, which is missing in a Ranji Trophy quarter-finals. Maybe, it will be there for the finals.

On the people who make broadcast possible

What we don’t (notice) often, I mean everyone around, is the hard work put in by the guys who bring the telecast on to your television screens. The cameramen, the technicians, the directors, the producers, the sound guys – they are the real stars of the telecast. The commentators just happen to be the face, and even as commentators, we would be nothing if not for the stats guys in the box with us. They are the ones who tell us all the little details, because in Tests and ODIs you have more information because you are in touch with it. But for Ranji Trophy matches, the stat guys are champions; they are the ones who give us the background like how the teams have qualified for the knockouts, who has done well, who is short of some runs or a few wickets for a landmark. They are the ones who provide us with the information. Without them, we would be completely stranded.

On sharing the commentary box with his son Rohan

For a change, I could actually pull someone’s legs and get away with it. Generally, when I am doing it at the international level, my fellow commentators can come back at me. Over here, that was the big plus that I could pull his legs and get away with it.

I started by saying that he has not been a part of the Ranji Trophy winning team. But thankfully, he didn’t come back at me saying he has scored more runs at Eden Gardens than I have.

On his tips to Rohan

That would be off the air because you don’t want to disturb someone when he is on air. But off the air, sometimes we do talk about little things, like the things I have learnt from Richie Benaud and by observing other commentators.

I haven’t heard much of him (Rohan) because of my travels, but the feedback that I get generally has been good. That is good to hear.

On the television coverage of Ranji Trophy

I think that is fantastic. If anything, the fact that the coverage of the game has been in various languages is one of the main reasons why we have the Indian team being captained by somebody from a non-metro. The game has spread so much that the guys from the non-metros, who otherwise perhaps would not have been in the forefront, have been able to get to the forefront because of what they have seen. I am pretty certain they have been, to some extent, inspired to take up the game by the media coverage that has taken the game to the interiors of India.

On his former team, Mumbai’s, batting, which has been struggling this season

Suddenly, when you are playing with Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, and they are not there, it makes a big difference. Don’t forget Sachin Tendulkar also played the first game (this season). So to suddenly have three new guys coming in is not an easy thing. That is perhaps one of the reasons that Mumbai’s batting has been indifferent this season. But I guess, as the years go by and some of the guys establish themselves and have a permanent place in the side, their confidence will also grow. It is a transition period and transition periods are always invariably inconsistent.

On previous transition periods in Mumbai cricket

I think in the 1970s also when India was touring the West Indies – in those days India toured in January-February, so that would clash with the knockout stages – there were the times when four-five players would be away. So those were transition times as well.