If the final of a major tournament pits two opponents who aren’t evenly matched, it can result in a twin scenario -- one ensuring the match becomes exciting and the other making it a monotonous affair.
In case of the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy final, being played at the Wankhede Stadium, it was the latter.
On the eve of the final, Saurashtra captain Jaydev Shah had said he would like to bat Mumbai out of the game.
His opposite number, Ajit Agarkar, gave the visitors an opportunity to do preciously that, by opting to field first.
However, Saurashtra gave ample evidence of being a side playing their first final in 75 years -- and against a side that has been at that stage a record 44 times -- by getting dismissed for a paltry 148 (75.3 overs) on the first day.
Aarpit Vasavada was lone batsman to make a decent contribution (55), his 146-ball knock inclusive of nine hits to the fence. Dhaval Kulkarni was the pick of the Mumbai bowlers with figures of four for 24.
At stumps, the home team had made 19 without loss (in eight overs). Wasim Jaffer was batting on 11 and giving him company was Kaustubh Pawar on four.
It was the home bowlers who vindicated their captain’s decision, running through the Saurashtra top order in the first session itself, the visitors going into the break with just 51 runs (32 overs) on the board and half their side back in the pavilion. Kulkarni did the bulk of the damage with three wickets, Vishal Dabholkar picking up the other two.
The second session was a comparatively a better one for the visitors, Vasavada and Kamlesh Makvana putting on 64 runs for the sixth wicket, the former completing his fourth first class fifty in the process.
However, just when things looked to have settled down for Saurashtra, Abhishek Nayar handed them a double blow, first having Vasavada caught by Shah and the having Makvana caught by Kaustubh Pawar (26).
The visitors went into the second break at 117 for seven (after 59 overs). The hosts returned to perform the last rites in the day’s final session.
A beauty of a delivery from Agarkar crashing into Saurya Sanandiya’s (4) stumps, the batsman having taken 45 balls to make his contribution.
Jaidev Unadkat (22) offered some late resistance before a basic error -- the inability to keep the bat grounded -- cost him his wicket, Dabholkar affecting the run out with a direct hit.
It was all over when Kulkarni returned to have Siddharth Trivedi (2) caught behind.
The Mumbai openers negotiated the remaining overs fairly comfortably, the lengthy batting card of the home side looking set to make things worse for the visitors.
It was a total batting failure by Saurashtra that has virtually handed Mumbai the match on a platter.
With just one of the five days played the result looks a foregone conclusion, unless of course Saurashtra make a Herculean effort to change their fortunes.
And that again, is easier said than done.