Gujarat batsmen have hogged the limelight for the entire season but their unheralded bowling line-up, sans India stars Axar Patel and Jasprit Bumrah, came to the party by dismissing defending champions Mumbai for a paltry 228 on the first day of the Ranji Trophy final, in Indore on Tuesday.
On a Holkar Stadium track that had some juice for the seamers, Parthiv Patel called it right and then his military-medium bowlers led by veteran Rudra Pratap Singh (2/48) bowled with a lot of discipline to script the downfall of the mighty Mumbai batting line-up.
Seamers Chintan Gaja (2/46) and Rush Kalaria (1/66) complemented RP well, while spinners -- left-armer Hardik Patel (1/54) and part-time off-spinner Rujul Bhatt (2/5) -- also provided important breakthroughs.
The 41-time champions, Mumbai lost wickets at regular intervals but their school-boy sensation Prithvi Shaw (71) once again hogged the limelight with some delightful stroke-play.
Talented Suryakumar Yadav (57) did all the hard work before throwing away his wicket while Mumbai’s 'Man Friday' Abhishek Nayar (35) ran out of partners in the end.
All the Gujarat seamers bowled within 130 kmph but got a shade of movement both ways, which brought about the downfall of the Mumbai batsmen.
Veteran RP started the slide as left-handed Akhil Herwadkar got a fuller delivery that straightened enough to catch him plumb in-front.
Shreyas Iyer (14) took guard outside the crease to negate the swing as he spanked a couple of fuller deliveries from Gaja, who then altered the length. Iyer rushed like a raging bull only to edge one to Parthiv behind the stumps.
But the first session belonged to young Prithvi.
Equally adept on the front and back foot, his punches were a delight. His upright stance and fine balance made him a delight to watch. He time and again rocked back to punch between the cover and cover-point region. He hit 11 boundaries during his crucial innings.
The time that he was in flow, even a normally attacking Suryakumar curbed his natural instincts to let the youngster hog the limelight.
At 17 years and 62 days, Prithvi became the youngest half-centurion in a Ranji Trophy final. He was looking good for a three-figure mark before a horrible mix-up with Suryakumar saw him run-out.
Suryakumar could be partly blamed for the wrong call as he pushed for a tight single dabbing one towards short cover. The duo had added 52 runs by then and a tight single wasn't a necessary. But Prithvi responded late and by the time he decided not to go for the single, Suryakumar was almost at the non-strikers' end and the youngster as is the custom in Indian cricket sacrificed his wicket for the senior man.
Once Prithvi was gone, Surya got into his elements, hitting some lusty on drives and cover drives.
Skipper Aditya Tare (4) offered a bat-pad catch off Hardik Patel.
Surya, who hit seven fours and a six in 133 balls was finally gone when he tried to pull a short one from Gaja only to offer a skier to Hardik at mid-off.
Once Siddhesh Lad (23) was out to a poor decision, the writing was on the wall for Mumbai.
Nayar tried his best to salvage some pride but received no support from the other end.
Now it will be up to Gujarat's marathon men Samit Gohil (2 batting) and in-form Priyank Panchal (0 batting), to bat Mumbai out of the contest.
And Mumbai’s fate rests on on how Shardul Thakur and Balwinder Singh Sandhu Jr bowl.
Image: RP Singh
Photograph: Getty Images