Ranji Trophy 2024 Final, Day 1 Report: All-Round Shardul Thakur Shines As Mumbai Dominate Vidarbha

Playing the last first-class game of his career, medium pacer Dhawal Kulkarni bowled his customary late outswingers which had Aman Mokhade (8) and Test triple centurion Karun Nair (0) nicking it to Hardik Tamore behind stumps

Photo: X/ @BCCIdomestic
Mumbai all-rounder Shardul Thakur made an unbeaten 75 runs while batting in the Ranji Trophy 2024 Final. Photo: X/ @BCCIdomestic

Seasoned duo Shreyas Iyer and Ajinkya Rahane's run drought continued but Shardul Thakur's all-rounder utility helped hosts Mumbai to claw their way back against a gutsy Vidarbha on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy final. (More Cricket News)

After scoring a counter-punching 75 off only 69 balls to give Mumbai's below-par first-innings score of 224, some semblance of respectability, Thakur also dismissed veteran opener Dhruv Shorey (0) with an angular delivery which got him a favourable DRS result.

Vidarbha were 31/3 at stumps with another 193 runs in arrears in the first innings with Atharva Taide (21 not out) and night-watchman Aditya Thakare at the crease.

Playing the last first-class game of his career, medium pacer Dhawal Kulkarni bowled his customary late outswingers which had Aman Mokhade (8) and Test triple centurion Karun Nair (0) nicking it to Hardik Tamore behind stumps.

Mumbai's top guns Rahane and Iyer were both dismissed for identical scores of 7 in a shocking collapse that saw the 41-time champions slipping from 81/0 to 111/6 on either side of the lunch break.

His achievement as a leader notwithstanding, Rahane's miserable run in the Ranji Trophy continued when the Mumbai skipper played one meekly to mid-on to be dismissed at a time when his team needed him to drop the anchor.

Around the same time last year, Rahane was a contender to earn his spot back in the national team but as things stand, irrespective of the outcome of this final it remains to be seen if Mumbai selectors would persist with the 35-year-old for the next season.

Out of favour and back in the grind to come back in the national reckoning again, Iyer once again failed to bail Mumbai out of trouble due to his poor technique.

During the morning session, Umesh Yadav (2/43 in 13.3 overs) was as wayward as one could be spraying the new ball all over and mostly drifting on the pads of openers Prithvi Shaw and Bhupen Lalwani.

But the pacer with 170 Test victims did get the prized scalp of Iyer to compound Mumbai's problems during post lunch session.

Expecting a short ball, Iyer remained rooted to the crease and in double mind as the ball bounced a tad more than he anticipated. With no footwork, Iyer went on a fishing expedition and the resultant catch was taken by Karun in the slips.

It all began when pacer Yash Thakur found an outside edge off opener Bhupen Lalwani's (37) bat to have Vidarbha skipper Akshay Wadkar taking a superb one-handed grab diving to his right.

Lalwani had done well to put on an impressive 81-run stand for the opening wicket with the burly Prithvi Shaw (46), who too was a tad reckless in his dismissal.

With spin being introduced as early as in the ninth over, Shaw went for the sweep quite a few times but never really executed it well.

On one such occasion, he missed connecting one from left-arm spinner Harsh Dubey (3/62) on the middle stump completely as the ball turned away to hit the off.

India U-19 star Musheer Khan (6) carried his World Cup form into knock-out rounds but on the day, an indiscreet flick-shot off an arm ball caught him plumb in front.

Having lost six wickets for a mere 40 runs, Mumbai also went through a phase in which no boundary was hit for as many as 18 overs.

But the complexion of the game changed drastically upon the arrival of Thakur in the middle, who hit a few fours to put the pressure back on Vidarbha and maintained the tone.

Thakur displayed adroit use of both hands and his feet to inch closer to what would have been his second consecutive ton but kept running out of partners.

Thakur was the last batter dismissed, caught by the man at deep square leg after a superb 75 off just 69 balls with eight fours and three sixes.

The troika of Tanush Kotian (8), Tushar Deshpande (14) and Shams Mulani (13), which bailed Mumbai on numerous occasions with useful runs also fell cheaply.

Brief scores: Mumbai 224 in 64.3 overs (Prithvi Shaw 46, Bhupen Lalwani 37, Shardul Thakur 75; Umesh Yadav 2/43, Harsh Dubey 3/62, Yash Thakur 3/54) lead Vidarbha 31/3 in 13 overs (Atharva Taide 21*; Shardul Thakur 1/14, Dhawal Kulkarni 2/9) by 193 runs.