Ranji Trophy: Prithvi Shaw, Tamore shine as Mumbai eye semi-final | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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Ranji Trophy: Prithvi Shaw, Tamore shine as Mumbai eye semi-final

Feb 26, 2024 09:21 PM IST

With a lead of 415 going into the last day’s play against Baroda, the 41-time winners are in prime position in the quarter-finals

Prithvi Shaw’s international career may have found no momentum, but his name will never go out of reckoning so long as he continues to serve reminders like his mini-gem -- 87 off 93 balls (10x4, 2x6) -- against Baroda at the MCA Sharad Pawar Academy ground on Monday.

Prithvi Shaw playing for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy(PTI)
Prithvi Shaw playing for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy(PTI)

A month into his comeback – it is his fourth first-class match -- after a six-month injury layoff that included knee surgery, Shaw batted with such authority that it felt he had never been away.

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The flamboyant batter led the charge for Mumbai during his 157-ball 124-run fourth-wicket partnership with Hardik Tamore (114), virtually shutting Baroda out of the Ranji Trophy quarter-final. At close on Day 4, Baroda were 415 runs behind with Mumbai’s final wicket yet to fall.

Shaw didn't open and came in at No.5 carrying a finger injury he suffered while fielding on Sunday. At 88/3, Baroda sensed an opportunity, having removed first innings double centurion Musheer Khan after a quick 33. Left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt, with a first innings fifer and having snarled the three early wickets, had his tail up.

That’s when Shaw signalled his intentions with a sweep to square leg. As Bhatt corrected his length, Shaw cut him through point. With more such strokes, the field began to spread, and the pitch again began to resemble the friendly well-rolled red soil wicket it had been in the match.

Picking up from Shaw’s attacking intent, Tamore too grew in confidence and began playing his sweeps, more of the paddle variety. The young batting duo used to batting together. Against the same opposition in their age-group days, the duo had shared a 290-run opening stand in Cooch Behar Trophy. “Prithvi told me that while he plays his shots, I should play my game and take chances only when it was worth taking,” Tamore later said.

Baroda, who had begun the day with Bhatt and fellow left-arm spinner Ninad Rathva, had to ring in the changes. They tried Mahesh Pithiya’s off-spin and Raj Limbani’s seam. By then, Shaw and Tamore had the measure of the conditions and opposition. Mumbai smashed 163 runs in the opening session.

A Limbani lifter jarred Shaw’s injured finger, but it wasn’t enough to contain his free scoring. Shaw continued to test Baroda’s boundary riders. But 13 from his hundred, he chanced his arm and fell to Bhatt’s flight. Mumbai were already 248 runs ahead. In half a day, Shaw had laid the foundation.

TAMORE’S SECOND TON IN KNOCKOUTS

While Ajinkya Rahane’s horrid run continued – he fell for nought as Bhatt’s fifth victim and could have been out twice – Tamore took charge to bring up his third first-class hundred. Yet to cement his place and short of runs coming into the match, Tamore boosted his standing with his second century in the Ranji knockouts – his first was in the 2022 semi-final against Uttar Pradesh.

That he could fill in as opener for Shaw after keeping wicket for 110 overs also is unlikely to go unnoticed. Tamore said: “When you are playing for Mumbai, you can never take it easy. You have to keep scoring.”

Mumbai's 358 runs in the day makes them favourites to meet Tamil Nadu at home in the semis. Unless Baroda can pull off an unlikely chase, Bhatt’s epic effort (7/112 & 7/142) will go waste as the hosts have the first innings lead.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Rasesh Mandani loves a straight drive. He has been covering cricket, the governance and business side of sport for close to two decades. He writes and video blogs for HT.

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