Till just after lunch on Day 1 at MCA’s BKC ground, the domestic giants, bouncing off two back-to-back wins in their first two games, had Saurashtra on the mat, having dismissed half their side for 127 after the visitors elected to bat first.
With both the experienced Sheldon Jackson (caught behind for 47, 71b, 5×4, 2×6) and Samarth Vyas (bowled, 0) succumbing to him, left-arm spinner Shams Mulani was breathing fire on a turning track and looking set for another big haul.
However, standing firmly on the deck was stand-in captain of the Saurashtra ship Arpit Vasavada, who led Saurashtra’s superb fightback by adding to the total with his priceless partnerships with the lower order and the tail. Coming off an unbeaten 127 that helped his team gain lead against Maharashtra in the last match, the 34-year-old scored a gallant 75 (155b, 9×4), and was the last man out after the score reached a respectable 289.
On a ‘rescue mission,’ the veteran left-hander was aided by useful contributions from Prerak Mankad (27), Parth Bhut (25), Dhamensinh Jadeja (24) and even No 10 Chetan Sakaria (19)- with whom the skipper added 28 off 32 balls for the ninth wicket to further frustrate Mumbai’s bowlers.
“Our lower-order batsmen always contribute with the bat. The way this wicket was, they contributed well,” Vasavada said later.
Clearly missing in-form off-spinner Tanush Kotian, who was ruled out on the morning of the game due to a badly swollen finger, Mumbai struggled to get through Saurashtra’s lower order cheaply.
The momentum shifted further towards Saurashtra in the evening when they managed to prise out both Mumbai’s openers, Prithvi Shaw (4) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (2), in the first two overs of the innings.
Into his third game of the season, Shaw has collected just 42 runs after 4 innings in his kit bag, at an abysmal average of 10.50. Extending his poor form, left-arm seamer Sakariya beat him twice before castling him off just the fifth ball of the Mumbai innings.
Saurashtra’s joy doubled when medium-pacer Chirag Jani broke the stumps of Jaiswal off the last ball of his first over. Suryakumar Yadav (18 not out, 13b, 4×4) and skipper Ajinkya Rahane (12 not out, 24b, 2×4), who scored a double hundred in the last game here, then calmed the team’s nerves with a flurry of delightful boundaries.
Mumbai would bank on the in-form star duo to carry on in the same fashion on Day 2.
Mumbai debut for all-rounder Musheer
Kotian’s injury and pacer Sidharth Raut’s exit due to the demands of a spinning track paved the way for a comeback for off-spinner Shashank Attarde and a well-deserved Mumbai debut for the 17-year-old Musheer Khan, who has excelled in age group and local tournaments in the past couple of years.
With Musheer joining his elder brother Sarfaraz Khan in the side, Mumbai had two brothers in the XI after a long time.
Brief scores: Saurashtra 289 all out in 79.1 overs (Arpit Vasavada 75, Sheldon Jackson 47; Shams Mulani 4/109) vs Mumbai 36/2 in 8 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 18 batting, Ajinkya Rahane 12 batting)