Mumbai inched closer to their second outright win of the season, thanks to Abhishek Nayar’s unbeaten 72, which swelled the hosts’ overnight lead (79) to 203 at DY Patil Stadium here on Monday.
The visitors came up with a timid display, with only skipper Parthiv Patel scoring a run-a-ball 47 as Gujarat ended Day Three on 159 for five, requiring another 44 to make Mumbai bat. The Gujarat bowlers started the day with promise, troubling Abhishek Nayar and Suryakumar Yadav in the first hour. Yadav lived a charmed life in his short stay. A simple chance went abegging, when the batsman knicked a Rush Kalaria delivery between keeper Parthiv and first slip. Neither made an effort to grab it. Two overs later, Yadav survived again as a no-ball by Krushang Patel crashed straight into his pads. But Krushang persisted with his impeccable line and got his man in the next over.
Nayar too looked edgy till he decided to play his natural attacking game after wickets started falling at the other end. Dhaval Kulkarni decided to show his batting skills for a change. The No 9 batsman smashed Rujul Bhatt for a six and then played a straight drive in the next over before falling to part-timer Samit Gohel for 22.
The last wicket partnership between Nayar and Zaheer Khan took Mumbai past the 400 mark. Nayar brought up his ninth half century of the season in style, sweeping Gohel to the fine-leg boundary. Thereafter, he decided to cut loose before Zaheer fell at the team’s total of 447.
In Agarkar’s absence, Wasim Jaffer led the side. Some smart captaincy gave Mumbai the first breakthrough. Jaffer removed the third slip and put a man at mid-wicket for Javed Khan. The move worked perfectly as Smit Patel flicked the next ball straight into the hands of substitute Shoaib Shaikh standing there.
Bhargav Merai and Gohel strung together a steady partnership which took the visitors past 50, but back-to-back wickets left Gujarat on 63 for three at Tea. Parthiv again treated the Mumbai bowlers with disdain en route to his enterprising knock. However, he played a shot too many and edged one outside off to Jaffer at first slip to give Javed a well-deserved second wicket.