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