Bangalore: Unheralded Yash Dubey (133, 335b, 14×4) and Shubham Sharma (116, 215b, 15×4, 1×6) made the biggest stage of Indian domestic cricket their own with well-crafted centuries that helped Madhya Pradesh take a big step forward towards winning their maiden Ranji Trophy title here Friday. At stumps on the third day of the Ranji Trophy final Madhya Pradesh were 368 for the loss of three wickets, just six runs short of Mumbai’s first innings score of 374. Dubey and Sharma put on 222 runs for the second wicket and that completely demoralised the Mumbai bowler.s
Madhya Pradesh now need only seven more runs to take a decisive first innings lead. Unless they suffer a collapse in the fourth innings, the title is theirs for taking. Madhya Pradesh had lost to Karnataka when the last time they competed in a Ranji Trophy final in the 1998-99 season.
Dubey and Sharma took the sting out of Mumbai attack with some ‘khadoos’ (stubborn) batting straight out of Chandrakant Pandit’s coaching play book as 245 runs were scored through the whole day but more effectively, they ran Mumbai attack ragged with their solid game plan.
Rajat Patidar (67 batting 106b, 13×4), one of the heroes of RCB’s campaign in the IPL, then used his new-found confidence to give more misery to the Mumbai side.
Madhya Pradesh would certainly want to stretch their innings as much as possible so that Mumbai have no chance to make a comeback in the game.
The Chinnaswamy Stadium track didn’t show signs of wear and tear. The bright sunshine only helped the Madhya Pradesh batters to settle down easily against a Mumbai attack which was at one level ordinary.
The biggest disappointment was their left-arm spinner Shams Mulani (1/117 in 40 overs), who bowled too many loose deliveries. Veteran Dhawal Kulkarni (0/51) and the seasoned Tushar Deshpande (1/73) bowled tightly, but lacked penetration and variation to trouble the Madhya Pradesh batters.
Instead of conjuring up maiden overs and building the pressure slowly, within first half-an-hour, the pacers allowed Dubey and Sharma to easily hit multiple boundaries to get their eye in.
When Mulani came in, Sharma lofted him over long-off for a six, leaving his skipper Prithvi Shaw frustrated. Mulani bowled too many length balls and at times full-tosses to make life of the batters much easier.
That Dubey (613 runs) and Sharma (578 runs) have been standout performers for Madhya Pradesh this season was evident in their on-field communication, where they would tap the ball towards mid-on or mid-off to steal those quick singles. People remember boundaries but Dubey and Sharma ran 76 singles between them in their double-hundred plus partnership.
Save Arman Jaffer missing a regulation catch of Sharma at short point, Mumbai hardly created any chances although Mohit Avasthi (1/53) should be credited for bowling one channel.
By the time, Sharma was caught behind off Avasthi and Dubey gave Mulani something to cheer after another 72-run third wicket stand, some of the Mumbai players were on their hunches. Patidar was smashing them for fun and the writing is clearly on the wall.
Brief scores: Mumbai 374; Madhya Pradesh 368 for 3 (Yash Dubey 133, Shubham Sharma 116, Rajat Patidar 67 batting). Match to continue.