Starting on a very high note this Ranji match was particularly important for cricket lovers as it marked the re-entry of favi bowler Zak. This match defined his fitness level, his wicket-taking abilities post surgery and his form!
The real controversy started on the day 1 itself; Famous by now, the Agarkar controversy. Not being selected in the playing 11, Ajit Agarkar was miffed at the selector and the coach. He requested to leave for Mumbai. Allowed or not to do so, Agarkar left the team and returned to Mumbai. This clearly was an ugly note to begin with. Being senior, Agarkar deserved a spot in playing 11. If not so, he at least needed a clear communication from the management about the squad.
Zaheer Khan in his statement clearly blamed the newly appointed coach Kulkarni and the selector Rege for the goof-up. Selector Rege put his hands up by telling that his job is to announce only the 15 members in the squad. The playing 11 is to be decided by the coach and the captain. The matter is yet to be solved. We say: solve it asap before it gets an ugly turn for the team and the association.
Getting back to the match; the playing 11 was: Akhil Herwadkar, Kaustubh Pawar, Abhishek Nayar, Captain Wasim Jaffer, Suryakumar Yadav, Onkar Gurav wicket keeper, Iqbal Abdulla, Dhawal Kulkarni, Zaheer Khan, Aavishkar Salvi, Ramesh Powar.
Winning the toss, team Mumbai decided to bat first. Akhil Herwadker who made his debut got out early scoring 11 runs. KP and Nayar did very well on the slow pitch playing with persistance to reach the score of 143. After which, nayar got out at 71. Immediately after that, captain Wasim lost his wicket scoring 35 runs. SKY along with KP batted consistently for the day. Kaustubh Pawar got his maiden ton, scored 127 before getting out to Behara.
|Kaustubh Pawar celebrates his maiden ton!|
This was followed by a quick fall of wickets for Mumbai. Iqbal and Onkar both got out on ZERO. But then, Dhawal handled the other end firm as SKY went on to finish his ton. The duo continued to play well adding 174 runs for the 7th wicket partnership. This included a smart FIFTY by Kulkarni and yes, SKY got his maiden double ton. SKY got out at 200 and Mumbai declared the innings at 529-8 after Kulkarni got out at 61.
|SKY completes his double ton!|
Time to bowl! Zak starting off with his first over and Zak lovers were almost on the edge. He strikes, takes his first wicket in the very first over! Celebrations all around! Specially Twitter.. This simple meant that he has a confirmed seat to Australia. Following the lead start by Zak, Dhawal Kulkarni did a marvelous job and took 4 quick wickets reducing Orissa to 35-5. If that wasn't enough to wound the team, Salvi saheb also wanted his share. He picked 2 wickets and now Orissa had reached to 43-7.
Day 3: Plain and bland. As usual, Zak picked 2 more and Dhawal forced the follow-on at 92 by picking up the last wicket. Believe me when I say, Mumbaikars who follow Ranji were happiest. Batsmen scored excellent and bowlers didnt give Orisaa any chance to score!
|Zaheer Khan takes wicket in his first over!|
Following-on Orissa lost first wicket at 17 runs. Zak, our favi, took that 1. With each wicket that he took, the selectors, the players, the crazy fans were getting happier. Coz it simply meant that he was back in good form and we need that form to thrash Aussies.
While we were rejoicing Zak's comeback, Ramesh Powar also wanted a share of the limelight pie! He took back to back 4 wickets giving Orissa no chance to make any decent partnership! My joke: They'll need 4 follow-ons to level the scores and other 2 to lead by a few more runs! :)
While the last session of day 3 went wicket-less, blaming it on dropped catches, but team Mumbai had nothing to worry about (except for that next day too they'll have to get up and play!). It matters when u get an extra day of rest, evil pleasures! And day 4, even before people could login and check scores, Mumbai had won by an innings and 210 runs. The remaining 3 wickets were taken by Powar, Salvi saheb and Powar again. Well, 6 points in our pockets!
Ramesh Powar: 7
Dhawal Kulkarni: 4
Zaheer Khan: 4
Aavishkar Salvi: 3
Abhishek Nayar: 2
Suryakumar Yadav: 200
Kaustubh Pawar: 127
Abhishek Nayar: 71
Dhawal Kulkarni: 61
None of the Orissa players could score a 50. The highest score being 41 by Mohanty in the second innings.
An interesting mention here: Iqbal Abdulla bowled 11 overs in the innings and they were maidens. Quite a unique record! And also, it is a very Happy Birthday to him. Great gift by team Mumbai to the budding talent! Along with this, Suryakumar Yadav bagged his first "first-class" MOM award for a the brilliant knock of 200 runs.
Also a very big thank you to the team video analyst: Saurabh Walkar for providing updates on match scores!
If Karnataka wins today, which is pretty much possible by now, they go back on the top. Till then, me, Mumbai supporter is enjoying the stardom and superb performance of my team! Well played all...! Cheers!
Images courtesy: Times of India.