Karun Nair: Vidarbha is practical but not giving up.

Mumbai was leading the Ranji Trophy final at the Wankhede in Mumbai when the Vidarbha batters faltered against a tough 538 target. With 290 runs remaining at 248 for five, all is lost for the home team save for some yelling. But there have been too many surprises in the game of cricket, the magnificent uncertainty, to rule out an upset by the visitors.

“Realistically, I believe we must act. It’s going to be difficult, but if there’s one thing I can say about this squad, it’s that they never give up and they show character no matter what,” stated Karun Nair, Vidarbha’s highest scorer in the second innings thus far. At the end of the fourth day of the match, Vidarbha was down 223 for five wickets due to his wicket, which may have swung the tide of the match in the home team’s favour.

Nair had bravely batted for 287 minutes, making 74 runs off 220 balls. Musheer’s outstanding delivery of an edge to induce a batter’s edge began to scare the Mumbai squad out of their comfort as he shared a partnership of 90 runs for the fifth wicket with captain Akshay Wadkar (56 not out). Mumbai felt that Nair’s firing was appropriate at the time.

Thus, in terms of timing, it was crucial. The Mumbai pacer Tushar Deshpande, who attempted several short balls to get the Vidarbha hitters to alter their defensive strategy in the previous session, stated, “We would have been more happy if we had got one more wicket.” They didn’t score at the pace that one would have thought teams these days would bat—only 238 runs in 92 overs during the day.

However, Vidarbha was adamant that they would play to the fifth and final day of the match and see what they could accomplish. The Vidarbha strategy was to hold onto wickets in order to take chances on the fifth day, as the pitch wasn’t doing anything to help the bowlers. Those plans might have been altered by Nair’s wicket.

“We just wanted to bat for as long as we could. We always knew that the runs would come in if Wadkar and I continued our partnership. All we had to do was put forth our best effort and finish the workouts. I had a lot of options for taking chances, but at what cost? The idea was to simply bat and not give them any opportunities. You never know. “Like I mentioned, you never know what might have happened tomorrow if I had continued to bat and (if we had been) 280 behind,” Nair remarked.

The spin combination of Shams Mulani, Tanush Kotian, and Musheer from Mumbai, especially the latter, bowled with excellent control and gave little away. “The wicket had some real bounce for the pace bowlers as well, but the spinners did a great job.” All of the wickets we obtained today were gained by us. They chased after such a large score with such persistence. Thus, we have earned every wicket we have so far in this game. We’re hoping to wrap up the game by tomorrow lunchtime or shortly after,” Deshpande stated.

That’s a fair appraisal of the state of play right now, but in cricket, weirder things have happened. Have they not?

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