Yash Dubey and Shubham Sharma took part in most of the morning session on the third day of the Ranji Trophy final in Bengaluru. Both were in their late 70s but Madhya Pradesh had yet to cross 200 and Mumbai’s 374 was still far away. For the first time in the game, with the sun setting in the morning, Mumbai failed to create opportunities. However, off-spinner Tanush Kotian was starting to build up a bit of pressure with his angle around the stumps. Two leg before shots were turned down in successive deliveries against Shubham, who answered the charge for a straight boundary in the same over. After a few overs, Dubey was saved by a close lbw shout, along with Kotian, and Mumbai’s disappointment was put into words. Dubey replied with a cover drive and a whipped four for two over midwicket.
This was an important feature of the huge 222-run stand for the second wicket between Shubham and Dubey. Coming together for 47 for 1 in the second afternoon, the pair slowly crushed Mumbai’s fight in a nearly six-hour long partnership that lasted 73.1 overs. On the rare occasion Mumbai managed to build up some pressure, either Shubham or Dubey quickly dropped it with a boundary or two, and went back to their largely risk-free accumulation.
It was a remarkable performance by the MP duo in the biggest match of their lives in concentration for so long. No matter how many words Sarfaraz Khan or Hardik Tamor or other Mumbai players threw at him, he never even came close to throwing his wicket away. Considering how much fun Mumbai is capable of, especially when things are going against them, it was a marathon exercise in self-denial amidst the provocation.
Solid centuries from Yash Dubey and Shubham Sharma and Rajat Patidar scored an unbeaten 67 on the third day. @paytm #Ranji Trophy #The last Bringing Madhya Pradesh a considerable distance from Mumbai’s first innings total. I #MPVMUM
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— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) 24 June 2022
Under the sun, the wicket played its best in three days so far. And when nothing is happening outside the wicket, this Mumbai attack doesn’t have enough power to force things to happen. Early in the day, Tushar Deshpande tried to bowl fuller against his inherently shorter length, and in the absence of swing, was taken for a few boundaries by positive Shubham.
Shaw somewhat straddled the field for a while, and after setting some starting speed, the MP had no problem driving the motor. The other side of the stand was running between the wickets. He used to go for singles on small occasions, keeping the fielders busy. This also meant that Mumbai were not able to string any meaningful sequence of dot balls.
Madhya Pradesh ended the day on 368/3.
Mumbai took a wicket each in the second and third sessions.
We will be back tomorrow for the fourth day of action.
Scorecard ️ https://t.co/xwAZ13D0nP pic.twitter.com/Xoszp8yKmI
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) 24 June 2022
Dubey looked compact right from the moment he leaned forward to defend the first ball of MP’s innings from Dhawal Kulkarni on the second day. Initially, he gave the impression that he was intent on batting long and showed indomitable nature in an innings that lasted 336 balls. He has a peculiar way of going behind the line in which he is often late on the ball but covers it quite firmly at the last moment. Throughout his innings, he continued to advance outside the off line or to the right to defend, and dropped the balls without any inducement. For someone who was made to open in the third game of this season for the first time since his debut in 2018-19, Dubey seemed a natural fit for the role.
Shubham, meanwhile, went at a faster pace and played more strokes than he did on the second day. His straight and cover driving was decisive and powerful. He scored his fourth century of the season – also against Gujarat to go with 92 runs – off a drive from Deshpande so tough that he was ripped through the hands of extra cover and all the way for four. When the second new ball was taken, he took a few chances and after a full delivery, went on to pat a couple over the boundary. When Mohit Awasthi, Mumbai’s only fast bowler who was not completely disappointing, bowled two straight deliveries, Shubham was caught for 116 for 215 on the back of the second appeal. By then the MPs were 100 runs away. ,
Another in-form batsman Rajat Patidar came out to chant ‘RCB, RCB’ from a few hundred fans at Chinnaswamy, and proceeded to watch whatever he liked. He stood up and whipped length balls into the air near midwicket, he punched a rising ball off the back foot behind extra cover, and he went straight with a right. His half-century came in just 44 balls as a battered Mumbai had nothing left in the tank. There was a respite after Shams Mulani was caught on a no-ball, and then went to the other end, being dismissed off 26 balls without scoring a single run.
Dubey’s stay finally came to an end after 111.5 overs to blunt Mumbai, as he was dismissed for 133 for 336 behind Mulani. Overall, Mulani didn’t get much turn or bounce, and was forced to bowl when Kotian got some lift. A batsman with leg-side field for a large portion of his spell, and was given only 18 overs compared to Mulani’s 40. Conditions may have been different in the first two days and the third, but it is fair to say that MP’s four-man attack completely outplayed Mumbai’s five-bowler unit. MP posted 245 for 2 on the third day in 82 overs, and are just seven runs away from taking a decisive first innings lead for their first title since the formation of the state.