Yash Dubey and Shubham Sharma had sailed through much of the morning session on the third day of the Ranji Trophy final in Bengaluru. Both were in the late 70s but Madhya Pradesh were yet to go past 200 and Mumbai’s 374 was a considerable distance away yet. Mumbai had failed to create chances with the morning sun beating down for the first time in the game. However, the off-spinner Tanush Kotian was starting to create a bit of pressure with his angle from round the stumps. Two leg-before shouts off successive balls were turned down against Shubham, who responded with a charge for a lofted straight four in the same over. A couple of overs later, Dubey survived a close lbw shout as well from Kotian, and Mumbai’s frustration came out in a volley of words. Dubey replied with a cover drive for two and a whipped four over midwicket.
That was a crucial feature of the mammoth 222-run second-wicket stand between Shubham and Dubey. The pair, who came together at 47 for 1 on the second afternoon, crushed Mumbai’s fight gradually in a nearly six-hour long partnership that stretched for 73.1 overs. On the rare occasion Mumbai managed to build some pressure, Shubham or Dubey would instantly release it with a boundary or two, and go back to their largely risk-free accumulation.
It was a remarkable display in concentration for such a long period from the MP duo in the biggest match of their lives. No matter how many words Sarfaraz Khan or Hardik Tamore or the other Mumbai players threw at them, they never came even close to throwing their wicket away. Given how much banter Mumbai are capable of, especially when things are going against them, it was a marathon exercise in self-denial amid provocation.
Yash Dubey & Shubham Sharma’s solid tons and Rajat Patidar unbeaten 67 on Day 3 of the @Paytm #RanjiTrophy #Final brought Madhya Pradesh within touching distance of Mumbai’s first-innings total. 👏 #MPvMUM
Watch the highlights 🎥 🔽https://t.co/EJcZG8SROY pic.twitter.com/zsjI9xWCsr
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) June 24, 2022
Under the sun, the wicket played the best it has in the three days so far. And when there is next to nothing happening off the wicket, this Mumbai attack does not have the teeth to force things to happen. At the start of the day, Tushar Deshpande tried bowling fuller, against his natural shorter length, and in the absence of swing, was taken for a few fours by a positive Shubham.
Shaw spread the field out somewhat for a short while, and having set some early momentum, MP had no problems in motoring along. Another aspect of the stand was the running between the wickets. They would go for a single at the smallest of opportunities, keeping the fielders busy. It also meant that Mumbai weren’t able to string any meaningful sequence of dot balls.
That’s Stumps on Day 3 of the @Paytm #RanjiTrophy #Final! #MPvMUM
Madhya Pradesh ended the Day at 368/3.
Mumbai scalped a wicket each in the 2nd & 3rd Session.
We will be back for the Day 4 action tomorrow.
Scorecard ▶️ https://t.co/xwAZ13D0nP pic.twitter.com/Xoszp8yKmI
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) June 24, 2022
Dubey had looked compact right from the moment he leaned forward to defend the first ball of the MP innings from Dhawal Kulkarni on the second day. Early on, he gave the impression that he was intent on batting long and showed unflappable temperament across an innings that lasted 336 deliveries. He has a peculiar way of getting behind the line wherein he appears to be late on the ball often but at the last instant, covers it pretty solidly. Throughout his innings, he kept stretching forward outside the line of off or going right back to defend, and also left deliveries without getting enticed. For someone who was made to open only in the third game of this season for the first time since his debut in 2018-19, Dubey seemed a natural fit for the role.
Shubham, meanwhile, went at a quicker rate and played more strokes, like he had on day two. His straight and cover driving was decisive and powerful. He got to his fourth hundred of the season – to go with a 92 against Gujarat as well – crunching a drive so hard off Deshpande that it burst through extra cover’s hands and well all the way for four. When the second new ball was taken, it took some chances and went after full deliveries, thick-edging a couple over the cordon for fours. When Mohit Avasthi, the only one of the Mumbai seamers who wasn’t completely disappointing, straightened a couple of deliveries outside off, Shubham was given caught behind off the second appeal for 116 off 215. MP were just over a 100 runs away by then .
Out came another in-form batsman Rajat Patidar to chants of ‘RCB, RCB’ from the couple hundred fans at the Chinnaswamy, and proceeded to bash whatever he pleased out of sight. He stood and whipped length balls in the air past midwicket, he punched rising deliveries off the back foot past extra cover, and he straight-drove with authority. His fifty arrived in just 44 balls as a deflated Mumbai had nothing left in the tank. There followed a reprieve as he was caught off a Shams Mulani no-ball, and switched to the other extreme thereafter, going as many as 26 deliveries without scoring a single run.
Dubey’s stay finally ended after 111.5 overs of blunting Mumbai, as he was caught behind off Mulani for 133 off 336. Overall, Mulani couldn’t find much turn or bounce, and while Kotian did get some lift, he was forced to bowl into the batsman with a leg-side field for a large part of his spell, and was given only 18 overs compared to Mulani’s 40. The conditions may have differed across the first two days and the third, but it is fair to say that MP’s four- man attack thoroughly outbowled Mumbai’s five-bowler unit. MP scored 245 for 2 on the third day in 82 overs, and are a mere seven runs away from taking what should likely be a decisive first-innings lead for their maiden title since the state’s formation.