Swapnil ton puts Baroda in sight of massive innings-win

Cricket


Mumbai 102 for 4 (Shaw 56, Rahane 28*, Kakade 1-2, Meriwala 1-13) and 171 trail Baroda 575 for 9 dec (Singh 164, Mangalorkar 43) by 302 runs
Scorecard

Mumbai’s hopes of salvaging their dwindling 500th fixture were dealt further blows on day three as Swapnil Singh mounted a 164-run offensive that amplified Baroda’s first-innings lead to 404 before reducing the hosts to 129 for 4 in the closing hours.

Faced with a 404-run deficit barely half an hour before tea, Mumbai’s first 22 runs were courtesy of three fours from Prithvi Shaw, who cracked consecutive fours off the first two balls of the hosts’ innings. With only another run added to the score, left-arm pacer Lukman Meriwala, who picked a five-for in the first innings, steamed in and had captain Aditya Tare edge an outswinger. Mitesh Patel, the wicketkeeper, pulled off a flying one-handed stunner to leave Mumbai bereft of their first-innings top-scorer and the occupants in the media box gasping in disbelief.

Ajinkya Rahane found his fluency early in the final session of the day, belting three fours en route to an unbeaten 74-ball 28. With quicks Atit Sheth and Sagar Mangalorkar conceding at five up to the 15th over. Swapnil’s left-arm spin was called into action. Shaw whipped him over midwicket for a six in his second over before reaching his fifty with a four a ball later. By then, Swapnil had leaked 18 off his two, with Mumbai motoring towards 100.

Proceedings, in what may turn out to be the deciding hour of play in the game, turned towards Baroda, with Aditya Waghmode, stationed at short-leg in the 18th over, receiving a brute Rahane sweep at the back of the neck right below the helmet. After he walked off the field, Swapnil came in for his fourth over with a six-three on-side field and was met with meticulous blocking from Shaw for the first two deliveries. The third, a lusciously-lobbed ripper pitched well outside leg, turned square to breach Shaw’s forward-defense and took out the middle stump along with much of the security the brisk 64-run second-wicket stand and Shaw’s 56 had offered.

Twenty-eight minutes prior to stumps, Shreyas Iyer played into Baroda’s short-ball plans with an off-balance pull that went off the toe-end to Mangalorkar at short square. Less than two overs later, nightwatchman Vijay Gohil defended the wrong line at the expense of his offstump, offering debutant Kartik Kakade, who scored a duck earlier in the day, his maiden first-class wicket off only his third ball at senior level. With their sights set on an outright win – and also a first victory this season – Baroda reduced Mumbai to 102 for 4 at stumps.

Much of Mumbai’s undoing on the day was led by a gritty innings from Swapnil, who mixed prudence with aggression through his 309-ball knock. Having played out 106 balls to get to his third fifty this season, Singh was handed a reprieve on 64 as neither the wicketkeeper nor first slip went for an outside edge that slipped through from between them.

He plucked singles and twos at will thereafter and equalled his highest first-class score of 95 with a flick off the pads off left-arm spinner Gohil. Two balls – the 242nd of his knock – after he survived a loud lbw appeal on 97, he notched up his maiden first-class century over 11 years after his debut as a 14-year old. His next fifty runs came off 42 balls – and featured a six off part-timer Iyer after lunch that landed deep into the Sachin Tendulkar stand – before a top-edge was met by a spectacular catch from Iyer at deep backward point to a rousing applause from the 500-plus crowd.

Mumbai, however, had begun the third day on a decidedly aggressive note, as fourteen balls into the third day, Dhawal Kulkarni undid Baroda’s fifth batsman, trapping Abhijit Karambelkar in front with a back-of-a-length inswinger. Wicketkeeper Tare then pulled off a stunning diving-grab to his left off Thakur to send back Mitesh. Dropped on nought by Siddesh Lad, Sheth exuded sureness through his 60-ball 25, until he steered a wide bouncer from Thakur to Rahane at gully. The opening session of the day accounted for four Baroda wickets for 89, before Swapnil dropped anchor to dominate stands of 63 and 109 with Sheth and Mangalorkar, who was unbeaten on a career-best 43 as Baroda declared on 575 for 9.



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