Am on vacation back to home to stay with parents in India in Mumbai
and I took this oppurtunity to visit ***hede Stadium for the game
between Mumbai and Railways.
I reached the stadium a bit late ..ie around 45 min before lunch and
when I was there, Mumbai were on 302/8 with Ramesh Powar batting in
the eighties with Swapnil Hazare for company.
By this time, the Railwaymen had used Harvinder Singh to good effect
to pick up crucial wickets earlier in the day and obviously Singh was
tiring. So though he got Hazare out snicking to the keeper, he
couldn't bowl further when Munaf Patel came to the crease. What
followed was mayhem with Munaf and Ramesh swatting the bowlers on
either side of the wicket. Powar is particularly a racy powerful kind
of batsman who exudes really good technique a la Gilchrist.
Munaf swept the spinners (Parida of the diabolical action and parttime
Shreyas Khanolkar) with some authority and by lunch these two piled on
a good 60 odd runs for the last wicket (Powar was batting throwing
more caution to the winds after reaching his century). After lunch and
some rest, Bangar brought in Zakir Hussain who got rid of Powar..but
the last wicket partnership was 76 runs..and Mumbai had piled on 388
before getting all out.
Mumbai started with Usman Maulvi from the Tata end and Munaf Patel
from the other end. Maulvi bowled a good first over testing Amit
Pagnis with incoming deliveries (to the southpaw) and afterwards
wasn't that penetrating. Munaf was bowling it at a nice pace( he was
the fastest I saw today, Harvinder the next fastest)...but was hardly
getting any swing except for the odd incutter.
Bahutule (the captain) shrewdly brought in Hazare instead of Patel and
made Patel change ends to bowl from the Tata end replacing Maulvi.
Patel suddenly got one to dart in at a very fastish pace, which Pagnis
snicked, resulting in a really good catch taken by Jaffer at second
slip diving to his left.
Bangar at the other end was playing with a lot of caution and showing
some solid defensive technique against the likes of both Hazare and
Patel. Patel got one ball however to rear up and hit Bangar somewhere
resulting in a catch at short leg (by Thakkar) but was ruled not out.
I wasn't sure if it hit the bat too..just heard a noise and then the
Hazare has a comic kind of runup and I dont know how he manages that.
His ankles point sidewards while running toward the stumps!!! But when
he delivers the ball he does it rather smoothly...All three..(Munaf,
Usman and Swapnil) are 6 feet and above (from my estimate) and Usman
and Swapnil were fastish medium while Munaf is pure pace.
The next batsman TP Singh did play one or two strokes (as against
Bangar who hardly played a ball outside the crease except for a flick
in the first few overs)..But suddenly Bahutule brought in Powar who
tossed one up inviting TP Singh to hit it, only for him to miss it and
get stumped for a superb first over. Railways reeling at 25 odd for 2.
That brought in JP Yadav into the crease and he did play a few uppish
drives. JP Yadav is a decentish allrounder but doesn't quite cut the
textbook mode. The drives he played were with an upright stance
without any front or back foot movement and it was only obvious that
Mumbai were going to make him pay for that. Hazare got one to pitch
slightly further than good length and Muzumdar was also standing in a
cover pretty close to midoff..all JP did was to drive it uppishly to
get caught by Muzumdar. 30 odd for 3 and suddenly Railways were
looking down in the dumps.
Bahutule was employing the three ***s for around 22 overs (with
one over by Powar in between)...and all three got a bit
tired...Swapnil lost his footing, I believe and was injured and
replaced by Usman who too lost his rhythm and was struggling a bit.
Bahutule then brought back Powar and suddenly Bangar who was batting
on 13 odd in around 1.5 hours went on the rampage, hitting 12 runs in
just 3 balls...Interestingly the first ball Bangar faced off Powar, he
drove with some venom back to the bowler, who tried to strike a hand
at the rampaging ball only to get hurt on the fingers...Thankfully
though Powar recovered both from the missed catch and the initial
hammering and wrought out some good flighted bowling.
Shreyas Khanolkar on the other end also struggled a bit, particularly
against Munaf (who was really impressive), but got into the groove a
bit later and was playing some lovely drives and flicks either side of
the wicket. Bangar was blowing hot and cold and slowly but steadily
these two built up a decentish 60 run partnership to push Railways to
90 odd for 3 by the end of the day. Bahutule brought himself into the
attack an hour and half before close but though he got some turn and
bounce, he wasn't particularly menacing.
Some thoughts from the day:
1. Ramesh Powar seems to be a nice allrounder. He bats with a great
degree of hand eye co-ordination and also some good sense and
thinking. He bowls very good off spin, not the run-of-the-mill stuff,
but seriously good flighted spin bowling and slight variations of
drift and bounce. He looks India material surely!
2. Munaf Patel is fast. I dont know how fast he is ..but in comparison
to Harvinder Singh, Zakir Hussain, JP Yadav, Usman Maulvi and Swapnil
Hazare, he was the fastest. Though by the end of the day, there wasn't
much bounce in the wicket, he did skid and bowl incutters that were
troubling the batsman. The trouble is that he didn't bowl any ball
that moved away (Hazare and Maulvi were able to do that, albeit with
vastly reduced venom). He also showed some ability to play spin with
the horizontal bat and is certainly a powerfully built lad. He also an
aggro strain about him (the umpire Mahal had a few words with him
after he exchanged some pleasantries with Khanolkar)..and also has a
smooth runup..and nice wrist action while delivering the ball.
3. Sanjay Bangar is blessed with some temperament, I tell you. He
batted dourly holding one end up firmly and then attacked when
necessary and then bottled up again. His defensive technique was nice
and impeccable..though he did struggle against Munaf a bit.
4. Nice ambience in the ground. I sat next to Usman Maulvi's relatives
and they were proud of their boy. His bro Farhan Maulvi was telling me
that Usman had played for some Bhivandi CC before the Mumbai selection
(not sure about the spelling). The entrance was free and the crowd was
intelligent enough to appreciate the action in the center in a cosy
manner. Just felt a tad irritated that none of the crow shit in the
stands seems to be cleaned.