Gujarat strike first

Defending champions Mumbai produced a shoddy effort with the bat to hand Gujarat the upper hand on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy final here at the Holkar Stadium on Tuesday.

The Gujarat bowling attack hardly looked lethal but was helped by some reckless batting from Mumbai. At 106 for two early in the post-lunch session, with two set batsmen in opener Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav, Mumbai were in control of the proceedings. However, they then lost wickets at regular intervals to be bowled out for a modest 228.

The impressive teenager Prithvi exhibited solid technique and scored at a fair clip until an ugly mix-up with Yadav brought a cruel end to his innings at 71. Yadav, who was watchful to start off, changed gears and attacked the pacers with some stylish drives. But the right-hander was caught in two minds, to cut or pull a short pitched delivery and ended up holing out to long on for 57. Barring these two batsmen, none of the other Mumbai players showed an inclination to forge partnerships.

Experienced seamer RP Singh brought in good variations in his effort of two for 48 while young right-arm medium pacer Chintan Gaja (2/46) and off-spinner Rujul Bhat (2/5) produced disciplined shows to share four wickets between them.

Gujarat were two for no loss at close of play. Mumbai had a chance to gain some momentum going into the second day when Shardul Thakur forced an edge from Samit Gohel in the very first ball of the innings. But Prithvi at first slip was late to react and spilt a regulation catch, capping off a frustrating day for the 41-time champions.

Putting Mumbai into bat on a surface that offered decent movement and bounce, Gujarat began on a positive note when R P Singh removed Akhil Herdwadkar (8) in the seventh over of the day. However, Prithvi and Shreyas Iyer put on a quick 41-run stand between them but the latter came down the track and chased a wide delivery to be out caught behind off Gaja.

Prithvi, who got a retrieve on 25, still maintained a good tempo and played some delightful on-drives and square cuts. But a mix-up with Yadav saw the 17-year-old sacrifice his wicket. Prithvi's run-out was the turning point of the day as Gujarat bowlers, who were on the shorter side in the first session, put pressure on their rivals by keeping things tight.

Gaja, in his debut season, bowled in the right areas and was rewarded with the wickets of Yadav and Iyer. Bhatt, a handy part-time option, didn't allow any rearguard action from Mumbai's lower-order and cleaned-up the tail.

To Mumbai's misfortune, crisis man Siddesh Lad (23) was unlucky to be given out caught-behind when the ball appeared to have missed the bat by some margin. Seasoned all-rounder Abhishek Nayar (35) ran out of partners and threw away his wicket in his attempt to counter-attack.