Bhargav Merai slammed his first century of the Ranji Trophy season to rescue Gujarat along with Axar Patel on day three of the four-day Group B match at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.
Coming to the crease on Wednesday when the visitors had lost two quick wickets to be 53 for 3, the Surat-born batsman kept the Mumbai attack at bay for the whole day on Thursday with an unbeaten knock of 150 to help Gujarat reply with 355 for 7 to the hosts’ mammoth first innings total of 531.
The 23-year-old right hander, reprieved soon after he arrived at the crease on Wednesday when a rampaging Shardul Thakur dropped him off his own bowling after taking wickets in successive overs, was watchful through his marathon 506-minute innings that contained 13 fours in 315 balls.
In the process, Merai also completed the fourth first class century of his career as Gujarat, seeking at least the first innings points to qualify for the quarter finals, were 176 runs adrift of the 40-time champions at stumps.
Giving company to Merai, who got involved in an innings-reviving partnership of 155 runs in 310 balls with India ODI player Axar Patel (88 with ten fours), at close was Ramesh Powar (0).
Axar and Merai, who came together after Gujarat lost two wickets on Thursday morning to the medium pace of Badre Alam, staved off the home team attack – after coming together at the fall of skipper Parthiv Patel’s wicket at 139 – for 212 minutes.
Axar was dismissed driving at covers by Mumbai’s main strike bowler Shardul after the second new ball was taken at 261 for 5 after 95 overs.
Merai survived a very confident caught behind appeal when on 88 before completing his century in 330 minutes and 220 balls. He also added 59 runs for the seventh wicket with Rush Kalaria (24).
Barring Shardul, and to a lesser extent Alam, the Mumbai attack looked toothless and the spin bowlers did not look threatening at all, food for thought for the ex-champions before the knock-out rounds, for which they have qualified, begin.
Brief scores: Mumbai 531. Gujarat 355 for 7 (P Panchal 36, B Merai not out 150, R Bhatt 31, Axar Patel 88; S Thakur 4 for 75, B Alam 2 for 67).
Ankit’s second fiver helps MP beat Andhra by an innings
Left-arm spinner Ankit Sharma claimed his second five-for of the match as Madhya Pradesh notched up an innings victory over Andhra to keep their Ranji Trophy cricket quarterfinal berth alive on Thursday.
Following on, Andhra were all out for 214 in 78.3 in their second innings with Ankit returning with brilliant figures of 7/91 as the home side won by an innings and nine runs on the third day at the Holkar Cricket Stadium.
Ankit ended the match with 13 wickets for 108 runs as he had also picked up six wickets for 17 runs in Andhra’s first innings which was folded at 56 in 38.2 overs.
Madhya Pradesh secured seven points, including a bonus, from the win while Andhra got none. MP have now ended their league engagements and they are now at third spot in Group B with 24 points from eight matches.
Madhya Pradesh: 279 (Rameez Khan 89, Harpreet Singh 81, Bandaru Ayyappa 5/66) beat Andhra 56 (Ankit Sharma 6/17) and 214 (AG Pradeep 62, Mohd. Kaif 51, Ankit Sharma 7/91) by an innings and nine runs.