Chhattisgarh 190 for 6 in 45.4 overs (Harpreet 83, Khare 59, Kulkarni 2-9) v Mumbai 95 for 0 in 11.3 overs (Jaiswal 60*) [Target: 192 in 40 overs]
The inequities of a rain-affected knockout match were brought to the fore as Chhattisgarh’s quarter-final against Mumbai in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2019-20 was washed out on Monday.
Chhattisgarh had finished the league stage with five wins to Mumbai’s four, and with number of wins in the league stage being the first deciding criterion in the event of a washout, they found themselves in a first-ever semi-final. Their defeat of Mumbai in the league stage, when they chased down 318, proved to be pivotal.
Excellent bowling by Mumbai, who ensured captain Shreyas Iyer’s decision to bowl first was vindicated, meant Chhattisgarh had plodded to 190 for 6 with just 4.2 overs remaining. A sharp downpour meant lunch was taken early and Mumbai’s innings was shortened to 40 overs, with the target set at 192 via the VJD method.
Teenage wunderkind Yashasvi Jaiswal then showed how good the surface at the Alur II stadium was – coupled with how outrageously gifted he himself is – as Mumbai clattered 95 without loss in 11.3 overs before the skies opened up once again. Unlike the previous downpour, this one was of much greater intensity, and though it lasted barely over half hour, the ground was soggy, wet and in no condition to complete the 8.3 overs that remained to count as a result.
The first stoppage in play had lasted 88 minutes, but hadn’t affected the game’s direction. When Mumbai came out to bat, they were expected to do so on a pitch made a bit spicy by moisture – the umpires waited a good ten minutes before calling for the covers even as a drizzle intensified during Chhattisgarh’s innings – but someone forgot to tell Jaiswal that.
The 17-year-old who came into this game having hit three centuries in his last four innings, with his most recent knock being a monumental 203, looked on course to make yet another three-figure score. He showed respect for neither age, nor bowler, carting Chhattisgarh’s bowlers for five fours and as many sixes. Three of those sixes resulted in stoppages of play because the ball had gone over the boundary wall of the stadium. Ironically, Jaiswal’s big-hitting actually meant a few valuable minutes lost while new balls were sought, though of course it was not a serious enough delay to make Mumbai wonder if their opener should have just held back a wee bit and sent the ball merely over the rope.
Jaiswals’s opening partner Aditya Tare was progressing niftily at a run-a-ball, but his 31* looked positively snail-like against Jaiswal’s 38-ball 60.
Defending champions Mumbai looked primed to saunter into the semi-finals and set up a rematch with Karnataka, but it was not to be.
Earlier, Dhawal Kulkarni had led the way with the ball, returning a first spell of 6-4-3-1, with Shardul Thakur not too far behind with his 6-2-13-1. Chhattisgarh’s early loss of wickets and nip off the deck meant they went into extreme caution mode, and the scoreboard read 16 for 2 in 12 overs. That run-rate of 1.33 was still an improvement from being 10 for 2 in 11 overs.
Captain Harpreet Singh was still there though, and he showed the value of biding time on the surface. He found a good ally in Amandeep Khare, as the duo added 135 runs in 143 balls for the fourth wicket, lifting Chhattisgarh from a sorry 40 for 3 in the 19th over.
Harpreet had been on 9 off 46 balls at one stage, but accelerated gradually, before exploding in the 39th over, bowled by left-arm spinner Shams Mulani. The second, fourth and sixth balls all disappeared over the ropes, in the arc between long-on and deep midwicket, as he moved from 57 to 75 in five balls.
Just when Chhattisgarh seemed to have found their finishing gear though, he fell for 83 off 108 balls. Another mini-collapse followed, as Chhattisgarh went from 175 for 3 to 181 for 6, even as Khare held fort on a patient half-century. Taking that clutch of wickets just before rain meant Mumbai had to chase relatively fewer than they could have otherwise, though 192 in 40 overs still felt generous to Chhattisgarh. Eventually, the rain gods proved most generous.