Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ranji Trophy: Baroda boss over Mumbai

Swapnil Singh slams maiden ton as visitors take 404-run lead to take firm grip on hosts' landmark tie

Nothing seems to be going right for Mumbai in their landmark 500th Ranji Trophy game at the Wankhede Stadium. After putting up just 171 in the first innings, courtesy poor batting, Mumbai were equally bad in defending their total. Poor catching, indiscipline bowling and negative bowling tactics cost Mumbai dearly as Baroda declared at 575 for nine to take a massive 404-run lead on the penultimate day on Saturday.

Baroda's Swapnil Singh celebrates his century v Mumbai on Saturday. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Baroda's Swapnil Singh celebrates his century v Mumbai on Saturday. Pic/Suresh Karkera

Mumbai, in their second innings, were struggling at 102 for four in 29 overs at stumps despite a brisk start from Prithvi Shaw (56). Mumbai trail by 302 runs with Test batsman Ajinkya Rahane batting on 28 and Suryakumar Yadav giving him company on two. Mumbai's famed fighting spirit was missing and allowed Baroda to dominate on all the three days, as the Mumbai bowlers conceded 42 extras (28 byes, 6 leg byes, 5 no balls, 3 wides) in 180 overs that they bowled. While Baroda opener Aditya Waghmode (138) troubled Mumbai on Day Two (Friday), it was Swapnil Singh on Saturday to make matters worse for the hosts.

Swapnil, 26, scored his maiden first-class century after making his Ranji Trophy debut at 14. Resuming on his overnight score of 63, he showcased most shots from his armoury. Swapnil, who has played a lot of cricket for DY Patil Sports Academy, made good use of his experience of playing in Mumbai. He reached the three-figure mark with a flick off left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil, who was the most expensive of Mumbai bowlers — conceding 177 runs for two wickets in his 51 overs. Mumbai pacer Dhawal Kulkarni finally got rid of Swapnil after he holed out to Shreyas Iyer at point. It also ended the 109-run partnership that Swapnil and put on with tailender Sagar Mangalorkar (43 not out) for the ninth wicket.

Swapnil recalled the ups and downs since his Ranji Trophy debut in 2006 against Hyderabad. "I would like to thank the coach (Atul Bedade) and (captain) Deepak Hooda for backing me. I used to play at No. 8 or 9, but they pushed me up in the batting order which helped me to score these runs. A lot has changed since my debut," said Swapnil.

Though Mumbai began on a positive note with Shaw striking two boundaries in the first over, the hosts could not maintain the momentum. Lukman Meriwala dismissed skipper Aditya Tare for five, courtesy a terrific diving catch by wicketkeeper Mitesh Patel. Swapnil managed to break Shaw's defence minutes after he reached his half century with a square cut. Mumbai then lost Iyer (8) and nightwatchman Gohil (0) in the span of 14 runs, making it a near-impossible task to save the match.

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