BENGALURU: Rajat Patidar stamped his class with an authoritative century to put Madhya Pradesh on the cusp of its historic Ranji Trophy triumph against 41-time champion Mumbai on a rain-hit fourth day of the summit clash here on Saturday.
Heavens opened up minutes before the tea break, and Madhya Pradesh finished its first innings at 536 soon after resumption with a game-changing lead of 162 runs, courtesy Patidar’s superb 122, that had as many as 20 boundaries. Four hundreds have been scored by batters from either side but none oozed more class and competence than Patidar’s, who was in a league of his own when it came to regal drives on both sides of the wicket.
At stumps, Mumbai erased some of the deficit, reaching 113 for 2 with Prithvi Shaw (44 off 52 balls) and Hardik Tamore (25 off 32 balls), promoted up the order, showing some positive intent but throwing away their wickets in desperation for quick runs.
Shaw was dismissed with a classic plan of bowling wide outside the off-stump and he finally chased one from Gaurav Yadav straight into cover’s hands.
With 95 overs left on the final day, there is very little chance of Mumbai winning this match unless it scores around 320-plus runs in 50 overs (including Saturday’s overs) and set a target of 150-odd for MP with at least 45 to 50 overs to get the 10 wickets.
The wicket isn’t showing any signs of crumbling and hence a chance of an MP collapse in the fourth innings doesn’t look imminent at the moment. Especially, knowing that it has a first innings lead, MP will like to down the shutters from hereon as ends will prove the means.
When the fourth day started, MP needed seven more runs to get the first innings lead but what was more important was for Patidar to play at least one session and he did that with minimum fuss which could now prove to be decisive in the context of the game.
Patidar smashed seven more boundaries following his 13 on the third day and by the time he was out for 122 off 219 balls, Madhya Pradesh’s lead had gone over 100 runs and the sullen faces of the Mumbai players said it all.
Madhya Pradesh’s innings lasted exactly 14 hours and two minutes and by the end of it all, it had out-batted Mumbai, a similar kind of torture that the domestic powerhouse is used to inflicting on its opponents over the years. The cornerstone of MP’s success this season has been its batting and No. 2, 3 and 4 scoring runs consistently.
While Patidar has so far scored 628 runs and is second behind Sarfaraz Khan (937) in the run-getter’s list, Yash Dubey (613) and Shubham Sharma (578) have also earned their stripes with match-winning performances.
Shams Mulani was disappointing for the better part of the third day when he had bowled 40 overs with a just a wicket to show for his efforts. His final figures on the day 63.2-11-173-5 might not make a pretty reading but the rotund left-arm spinner gave it his all as Shaw used him unchanged from one end till lunch.
BRIEF SCORES: Mumbai 374 & 113/2 in 22 overs (P Shaw 44) vs Madhya Pradesh 536 in 177.2 overs (Y Dubey 133, R Patidar 122, S Sharma 116, S Jain 57, S Mulani 5/173, T Deshpande 3/116)