Mumbai in driver’s seat against Odisha

Mumbai: Defending champions Mumbai placed themselves in a strong position for a victory over Odisha after reducing the visiting side to 115 for two after following on on day three of their Group A Ranji Trophy match here on monday.

Despite opener Natraj Behera`s valiant 130, Odisha could not avoid the follow on as they folded up for 256 soon after lunch, in reply to Mumbai`s huge first innings total of 501/9 declared.

Batting for the second time in the day, Odisha batsmen applied themselves and the new opening pair of Govind Podder and Girjia Rout looked tentative but stitched an 83-run stand for the first wicket.

But the visitors lost both the openers in a short span of time.

Podder, who was dropped on 14 by wicket-keeper Aditya Tare, made 42 (6x4) before he caught behind off Pravin Tambe. Rout was stumped, also off the bowling of Tambe after scoring 43 (6x4, 1x6).

Natraj (20) and one-down batter Niranjan Behera (9) were at the crease at the draw of stumps, with their team still 130 runs behind Mumbai`s first innings total with eight second innings wickets intact.

The 42-year old leg-spinner Tambe, playing his debut match, was wicketless in the first innings but scalped two wickets in Odisha`s second innings so far.

Resuming their first innings at 79 for 3, Odisha lost four wickets in the first session.

In the morning session, Natraj slammed his second ton of the season, the previous being against Delhi in the last game. Odisha`s innings was wrapped up in 63.5 overs and Natraj batted till 60.5 overs. His 255 minutes at the crease yielded 24 fours and two sixes.

Despite losing wickets at the other end, Natraj, who resumed batting at his overnight score of 45, was resilient and tried to attack to the opposition. He extracted 20 runs off left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar`s over by hitting two fours and two sixes.

Natraj, who was on 63 when Odisha lost their seventh wicket, forged a 77-stand with Basant Mohanty to consolidate the innings.

With Odisha at 227 for 8 when Natraj departed, Mohanty later chipped in with a useful 29, with five fours and a six, before being dismissed by Dabholkar to signal the end of Odisha`s first innings.

Captain Biplab Samantray (39), who shared a 50-run partnership with Natraj, made his intent clear when he hit Shardul Thakur for four consecutive boundaries. He, however, perished while attacking the bowler in his next over.

Samantray made a quick 33-ball 39 which was laced with four boundaries.

Javed Khan was the pick of the bowlers for Mumbai in Odisha`s first innings with four wickets for 53 runs, while Shardul Thakur grabbed three wickets for 54 runs.

Dabholkar picked up two wickets and Kshemal Waingankar bagged one.

Brief Scores:

Mumbai: 501 for 9 decl

Odisha: 256 all out (Natraj Behera 130; Javed Khan 4/53) and 115 for 2 (Govind Podder 42; Girjia Rout 43; Pravin Tambe 2/52).

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