As the second day’s proceedings came to an end on Sunday, a fully-padded up Rohit Sharma went for some batting practice. The batsman knew very well that Monday will be a crucial day for Mumbai.
After the hosts’ bowlers failed to deliver on the first two days, it will be the batsmen who will have to take the responsibility on hand if the 39-time Ranji Trophy champions have to stay in the hunt for a knock-out berth.
Mediocre bowling and dropped catches (two more to Saturday’s five) continued for the second day in a row at the Wankhede stadium for the home team. This allowed Punjab to continue their dominance with vice-captain Mandeep Singh going on to score a double century. The visitors posted 580 in their first innings.
Mumbai, who needed a great start from their openers, lost Aditya Tare and were 69 for one at stumps, trailing by 511 runs. Tare, in fact, looked good before being out caught and bowled by seamer Manpreet Singh Gony while trying to work a short ball to square leg. Ajinkya Rahane (18) and Kaustubh Pawar (26) saw the team through without any further setback.
But, there was drama when Rahane’s wicket was disturbed by Sandeep Sharma on zero. However, it came off a no-ball.
The day, however belonged to Punjab and Mandeep Singh, in particular. Having failed to score a single half-century this season until coming here, the 20-year-old registered his highest first-class score of 211. He reached there in 306 deliveries with 32 boundaries and a six. The Punjab youngster shared 195 for the fifth wicket with Amitoze Singh, who, too milked the hapless Mumbai bowling with a 91-run knock.
More than Mandeep’s entertaining knock, the talk of the day was Mumbai’s bowling. It lacked bite on a pitch that still had some movement. None of the bowlers looked affective against Punjab’s strong batting. Veteran off-spinner Ramesh Powar’s spell of 5-0-50-0 in the pre-lunch session reflected the sorry state of Mumbai’s bowling.
Skipper Ajit Agarkar and left-arm spinner Ankeet Chavan took three wickets each, their efforts being the only consolation.
Punjab 1st innings (O/N 288/4): Mandeep Singh b Chavan 211, Amitoze Singh c Kulkarni b Chavan 91, Bipul Sharma run out 11, Harbhajan Singh c Rahane b Chavan 22, MS Gony c Tare b Agarkar 0, S Kaul not out 21, Sandeep Sharma c Tare b Powar 23
Extras: (B5, LB14, W2, NB18) 39; Total: (all out; 158.1 overs) 580; FoW: 5-483, 6-512, 7-514, 8-514, 9-542, 10-580; Bowling: A Agarkar 29-7-95-3 (2NB), D Kulkarni 34-8-106-2, BS Sandhu 20-3-62-0 (5NB, 1W), A Nayar 16-5-52-0 (4NB, 1W), R Powar 15.1-0-93-1 (7NB), A Chavan 38-7-142-3, K Pawar 5-1-10-0
Mumbai 1st innings: K Pawar batting 26, A Tare c & b Gony 18, A Rahane batting 18
Extras: (LB5, NB2) 7; Total: (1 wicket; 19 overs) 69; FoW: 1-32; Bowling: Sandeep Sharma 8-2-29-0 (1NB), MS Gony 5-2-13-1, S Kaul 4-0-13-0, Harbhajan Singh 2-0-9-0 (1NB)