Shardul Thakur, Shivan Dube put Mumbai on top in Ranji Trophy | Crickit
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Shardul Thakur, Shivan Dube put Mumbai on top in Ranji Trophy

Feb 16, 2024 10:38 PM IST

A six-wicket haul from Shardul Thakur and an unbeaten 95-ball 101 from Shivan Dube meant Mumbai lead Assam by 133 runs with four wickets in hand.

A total of 16 wickets, a six-for by Shardul Thakur, a blazing century by Shivam Dube, and a curious non-dismissal for Ajinkya Rahane — day one of Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy match against Assam here at the MCA ground in Bandra Kurla Complex had a lot packed in. At the end of it all, it was the hosts who were firmly in the driver’s seat.

India's Shardul Thakur in action (REUTERS)
India's Shardul Thakur in action (REUTERS)

Heading into the contest, Mumbai, with four outright wins in six games, had already secured their spot in the quarter-finals. Despite their last league match of the season being a dead rubber, with Assam not in the reckoning for qualification, the home side remained relentless with the ball after winning the toss.

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Assam were bowled-out for just 84 runs in 32.1 overs before Mumbai got to 217/6 at stumps.

Competing in just his second Ranji game this season, having gone wicketless in the previous match against Chhattisgarh, Thakur bowled a fiery spell with the new ball to pick three wickets and blow away Assam’s top order.

“We were expecting a batting pitch but I don’t know what happened, it was quite damp and slow to begin with,” said the 32-year-old. “There was good bounce but not much carry. It was important for us to pitch the ball in the right areas.”

Abhishek Thakuri, in at No.4, held on from one end but Assam kept losing wickets with Mohit Avasthi, Tushar Deshpande and Shams Mulani getting into the act. Thakur picked three of the first four wickets before returning for another impressive spell and taking three of the last four wickets.

“I felt I was unlucky to not get any wicket in the last game,” said Thakur. “I sat down then and thought about my game and knew that I had bowled well. So, I had that confidence and just had to carry it into this game. My body is feeling absolutely fine and I can bowl as many overs as needed. I just had an ankle niggle and needed three weeks to recover.”

Mumbai wrapped up the Assam innings in the first session itself and would’ve hoped to deliver a strong batting performance from there. But things didn’t go as per plan initially as they ended up losing half their side with just 110 runs on the board.

Perhaps the most interesting moment of the day came after skipper Rahane and Dube brought up a 50-run partnership for the fifth wicket. Rahane, batting on 18, was given out for obstructing the field after trying to scamper back into the crease. But Assam went on to withdraw the appeal and he was allowed to continue his innings. This could happen because tea had been taken immediately after the incident and the next ball wasn’t bowled.

“He (Rahane) didn’t change his direction looking at the ball and wasn’t trying to obstruct the field,” said Thakur. “The umpires felt he could be given out since the throw was aimed at the stumps. But Assam’s coach felt he didn’t obstruct the field purposely. So, he walked up to us and apologised. He said the appeal was in the heat of the moment and they wanted to withdraw it. But Ajinkya was not keen on batting again and said once given out is out. But we convinced him he could bat again and it would be for the team. His ethics don’t allow him to do that but he went ahead for the team.”

Rahane, however, couldn’t make the most of his reprieve and added just four runs to his tally before being bowled by Dibakar Johori. Mumbai already had the first innings lead by then but needed something special to post a strong total. And once again, it was Dube who raised his hand to notch up his second century of the season.

The left-hander hit 10 fours and five sixes in his unbeaten 101 off 95 balls. He took some time to settle in and got a few edges past the slip fielders but struck the ball powerfully for the most part. Dube’s 103-run stand for the sixth wicket with Mulani deflated the Assam players and put Mumbai well on top again.

“Shivam played very well,” said Thakur. “When the chips are down, it’s not easy to absorb the pressure and then counterattack. I think he played an ideal innings for any surface. There was a lot of pressure when he went in but he absorbed it and didn’t attack straightaway. He knows his areas of strength very well.”

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