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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Ranji Trophy: Niranjan Behera denies Mumbai the points

Ranji Trophy: Niranjan Behera denies Mumbai the points

November 13, 2009 20:18 IST

"We need a few outright wins now," said captain Wasim Jaffer, soon after Mumbai were held to a draw by Orissa. It was the defending champions' second successive stalemate.

"However, with wickets conducive for batting, the biggest challenge will be to take 20 wickets in each of our matches ahead," he added.

With two day's play washed out because of rain, a result always seemed out of question, but the best Mumbai hoped for was three points on the basis of a first innings lead.

However, a determined effort from Orissa batsman Niranjan Behera ensured Mumbai had to be content with a single point only.

"We tried our best. We gave it our all," explained Jaffer. "But they batted very well."

The holders, riding on Jaffer's masterful 165 not out, declared on 307 for four, thereby giving themselves 80 overs to bowl the visitors out.

And Iqbal Abdullah (four for 52) and Zaheer Khan (three for 100) ensured Orissa had to dig deep to survive.

However, Behera, with a patient unbeaten 78, that included 13 boundaries, saw that his side ended the match with their heads held high -- at 243 for eight.

Opener B S Pati (55) and veteran Pravanjan Mullick (50) were the other significant contributors to the Orissa cause.

"Ideally, we would have declared sometime before lunch," said Jaffer, when asked if Mumbai took too long to declare. "But we were scoring at a faster rate then and we also wanted the opposition to try to get those three points. However, they made no effort towards that."

Mumbai, held by Punjab in their opening match, are now win-less in two games. And while they had the solace of three points against Punjab, on the basis of their first innings lead, against Orissa, they let that opportunity slip.

"Definitely, we are disappointed. How much will these dropped points make a difference we will see as the tournament progresses but we need to be focused on the games ahead," said Jaffer.

For the games ahead, Mumbai will be without Zaheer, recalled to the Test fold.

The left-arm bowler, making a come back from injury, had taken 10 wickets in the first two games but struggled with his footing on Friday, bowling as many as 11 no balls.

"I think he bowled well today. When he bent his back he got the ball in the right areas," said Jaffer, before adding, "it's bad news for us but a good news for the Indian team."

Orissa, on the other hand, were ecstatic to have secured their first points of this campaign, having lost their opening game to Gujarat.

"We wanted someone to bat through the innings and I took up the responsibility," said Behera. "And now after having held the holders we are feeling pretty confident and we will take that confidence in to our matches ahead."

Bikash Mohapatra Mumbai