After powering Saurashtra to an emphatic 60-run victory over mighty Mumbai, left-hander Kuldeep Raval found himself in right company. He had the opportunity to meet John Wright, also a southpaw. The New Zealander, a former India coach now in charge of the Mumbai Indians, has been camping in Ahmedabad since Sunday.
The interaction had nothing to do with Raval’s match-winning performance against Mumbai, but the smile on the Saurashtra batsman’s face suggested he had landed an IPL deal. However, this could not be confirmed.
On Tuesday, the middle-order batsman smashed a 26-ball 53 and then picked up two wickets with his left-arm orthodox as Saurashtra recorded an upset win by bowling out Mumbai for just 92. It was Mumbai’s third successive defeat in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament.
When Raval arrived at the crease, his team was in a spot of bother — 67/4 in the 11th over. Raval, known for his I-don’t-fear-any-bowler attitude, launched a brutal attack on the bowlers. He smashed eight fours and a towering six to take Saurashtra to a respectable 152/7.
“If you look at his record, Raval has been in outstanding form. He is our finisher, in both departments,” said Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Shah. In the previous match against Maharashtra, Raval had scored an unbeaten 33 and scalped three batsmen in his team’s victory.
Going by Aditya Tare’s form at the top of the order, the target looked very modest. Mumbai also made a few changes from their last match. Opening batsman Praful Waghela came in place of Suryakumar Yadav, while Avishkar Salvi made way for Kshemal Waigankar.
However, there was no change of fortune. Ever since they landed in Ahmedabad, Mumbai have looked a depressing side. They seem to lack the energy levels that won them a record-extending 40th Ranji Trophy crown.
Saurashtra made inroads through seamer Siddharth Trivedi (3/7). In the first six overs, Mumbai managed just 19 runs. The pace at which they scored was slower than the local trains back home. Abhishek Nayar’s burst, whether out of frustration or calculation, did give the Mumbai dug-out something to cheer about. However, when his furniture was dismantled by Sandeep Maniar, it was all over. So ordinary were Mumbai that their top-scorer was Siddharth Chitnis (15).
“Can’t exactly say revenge but it has given us lot of satisfaction,” said Shah, while referring to his side’s defeat in the Ranji Trophy final earlier this season.