Ranji Trophy | Honours even after day one as Andhra claims six Mumbai wickets

Ranji return: Shreyas fell for 48 after showing glimpses of his class.

First Class cricket is a game of patience. While Andhra bowlers – despite losing its leader K.V. Sasikanth to an injury midway through the day – showed plenty of it, most of Mumbai batters had a blip in concentration on the first day of the Ranji Trophy Group B tie.

Except captain Ajinkya Rahane who perished to a dodgy decision for a golden duck, every Mumbai batter got a start. But none of them managed to convert the start into a big innings. As a result, Mumbai ended the day at 281 for six after being inserted into bat at the Sharad Pawar Cricket Academy ground.

Had it not been for an unbroken 57-run association between all-rounders Shams Mulani and Tanush Kotian, Mumbai would have lent the advantage to Andhra. The duel with the new red cherry on Saturday morning may well shift the pendulum of the game from its position at the centre for now.

Jay Bista and Bhupen Lalwani showed patience as Andhra employed the fifth-stump line consistently in the morning. While both the openers drove well through the gaps whenever the ball was pitched full, Bista finally erred in edging Nitish Kumar Reddy with substitute Ashwin Hebbar taking an acrobatic catch in the slip cordon.

The next ball, Nitish – who had bowled only outswingers till then – jagged one back in and Rahane was taken by surprise to be adjudged leg-before wicket. The decision was surprising for Rahane but the bowler deserved all the credit for his tactics.

Moments before tea, Nitish was rewarded again with the prized scalp of Shreyas Iyer. Despite Nitish and debutant Satyanarayana Raju employing a short-ball ploy with a six-three leg-side field to Shreyas, the batter seldom looked in trouble. Bowling around the wicket, Nitish bowled one wide of off-stump and Shreyas chased it only to nick it to keeper U.M.S. Girinath.

In between, Lalwani played the wrong line to be bowled by left-arm spinner Lalith Mohan after a stylish fifty and Suved Parkar’s attempted sweep off a full-stop resulted in him being plumb in front of the wickets in his forties.

When wicketkeeper Prasad Pawar was caught behind off offspinner Shoaib Mohammed Khan, at 224 for six, Andhra hoped to run through the lower order. But reliable all-rounders – Mulani and Kotian – played out the last 76 minutes without any further error.

The scoreboard:

Mumbai – 1st innings: Jay Bista c sub (Hebbar) b Nitish 39, Bhupen Lalwani b Lalith 61, Ajinkya Rahane lbw b Nithish 0, Suved Parkar lbw b Shoaib 41, Shreyas Iyer c Girinath b Nitish 48, Prasad Pawar c Girinath b Shoaib 15, Shams Mulani (batting) 30, Tanush Kotian (batting) 31.

Extras (b-5, lb-7, nb-2, w-2): 16; Total (for six wkts., 88 overs): 281.

Fall of wickets: 1-69, 2-69, 3-130, 4-192, 5-204, 6-224.

Andhra bowling: Sasikanth 13.5-3-40-0, Raju 18.3-3-76-0, Lalith Mohan 29-2-67-1, Nitish 16.4-2-44-3, Shoaib 10-0-42-2.

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