Madhya Pradesh 123 for 1 (Dubey 44*, Shubham 41*) trail Mumbai 374 (Sarfaraz 134, Jaiswal 78, Yadav 4-106, Agarwal 3-81) by 251 runs
After tea, Dubey and Shubham raised a half-century stand off 89 deliveries. Just as they were beginning to look increasingly at ease, a change of ball in the final session seemed to make a difference as Deshpande and Mohit Awasthi forced the batters to shut shop by delivering a probing spell of reverse swing bowling as stumps loomed.
Reverse swing aside, Awasthi, the first-change bowler, impressed in short bursts, occasionally getting the ball to rear up to make Dubey uncomfortable, but he couldn’t sustain it for long enough. As spin came on, both batters kept milking runs. Shams Mulani, easily Mumbai’s best bowler so far this season with 37 scalps at an average of 15.64, was particularly picked off with ease. He conceded 46 runs in 11 wicketless overs. More than the runs, that he couldn’t even cause a flutter would worry the team management.
The first eight overs produced just 10, but Sarfaraz was happy to play himself in and temper his game to give bowlers the first hour. He reined in his shots, resisted temptation to try and pick off cheeky boundaries like he usually does, focused fully on playing orthodox cricket.
After Mulani was out second ball, Tanush Kotian barely survived, pushing, and prodding against the fast bowlers before an unplayable delivery got him when Gaurav Yadav bowled him with a superb away-swinger to flatten his off stump. Yadav, who wheeled away without any luck on the opening day, had four wickets to show for his efforts by the end.
Kulkarni’s stonewall for a better part of an hour allowed Sarfaraz to play hit shots. He got to a century with a lofted hit down the ground off Kumar Kartikeya’s left-arm spin. His animated celebration thereafter had the sparse crowd, national selectors and his teammates give him a standing ovation. He added 34 runs more but eventually fell playing one big shot too many. By then, Mumbai were in an excellent position, leaving MP to do all the running to try and remain in the game, which they have.