The match was drifting with an eerie calm towards a sure loss for Mumbai, like a man sleepwalking quietly to the edge of the cliff. The two left-arm spinners Iqbal Abdulla and Vishal Dabholkar bowling in tandem were restrictive but not spectacular. Gujarat were 136 for 4 at that stage and needed 39 runs more to make the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals. It’s in breaking such a lull that Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer suddenly decided to bring on off-spinner Suryakumar Yadav.
Chasing 175, Gujarat had resumed at their overnight 67 for 3 and lost Bhargav Merai in the 11th over of the final day after a fourth-wicket stand of 76 runs. Despite Dabholkar claiming the middle-order batsman, the home team had looked in total control of the proceedings. The route to the run-chase had looked smooth for Gujarat till then as Akshar Patel was batting steadily having scored a half-century and had support of veteran Venugopal Rao from the other-end, as the duo rotated the strike comfortably.
At this juncture, Yadav came round the wicket and bowled on the rough, hoping the ball would turn to leg. Patel went for a sweep, but however to his surprise, the ball stopped a bit leaving his leg-stump shattered. At 135 for 5 now, Gujarat still needed 39 runs more to win, but barely did they know that their next five wickets would add a mere 12 runs to the total. Patel and Rao had managed a 31-runs stand for the fifth wicket but somehow Gujarat choked.
At the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Stadium, Mumbai clinched a thriller with left-arm spinners Iqbal Abdulla finishing with five wickets (11-wicket-match haul) while Dabholkar took four to see Gujarat's domestic season ending with a 27-run defeat to the defending champions. Abdulla, who had taken two wickets overnight, claimed crucial scalps of Manpreet Juneja for a duck and sent back Rao in quick succession.
Later, he had Chirag Gandhi pinned to the back-foot, trapping him leg-before for his fifth wicket. It was Abdulla’s day out in Valsad.
His figures of 5 for 44 and 6 for 42 and 30 and 38 runs had in fact been the defining difference in the low-scoring game for Mumbai.
For Gujarat the defeat must have felt painful after they came into this game with eight batsmen.
It was their best chance to beat the champions and even their captain Parthiv Patel was confident and