Yash Dubey, Shubham Sharma and Rajat Patidar led Madhya Pradesh's batting domination on day three of Ranji Trophy Final against Mumbai, bringing the side in touching distance of taking a first-innings lead, ending the day at 368/3 in 125 overs, with just six runs needed to overtake Mumbai's 374 and grab a crucial first innings lead.
Friday was a day which well and truly belonged to Madhya Pradesh. Dubey and Sharma, the overnight batters, made 133 and 116 respectively, sharing a mammoth 222-run stand for the second wicket. Once the duo fell, Patidar took centrestage with some eye-catchy shots to be unbeaten at 67.
For Mumbai, it was a hard day of toil under sunshine, getting very little help from the pitch and dropping Sharma at 55 as well as getting out Patidar on 52 off a no-ball added to their woes.
Patidar, whose attacking intent got fans in stadium chanting 'RCB, RCB', began the final session with a cracking cover drive off off-spinner Tanush Kotian before punching Shams Mulani beautifully between two cover fielders. His aggression continued when he created room to drive through long-off and then played a delightful late cut to keep the Madhya Pradesh run-making juggernaut going. Patidar reached his thrilling fifty in just 44 balls by clipping Mohit Awasthi through mid-wicket.
It seemed that Patidar had thrown his wicket away when he chased a wide ball from Mulani and was caught at backward point. But replays showed that the left-arm spinner had overstepped, giving the right-handed batter reprieve at 52. Dubey collected two more boundaries and took his score to 133 before sending a faint edge behind to Tamore, giving Mulani his first wicket of the match.
Post the reprieve, Patidar slowed down and played 27 balls without making a single run. As soon as Kotian arrived, he got back-to-back boundaries - a backfoot punch through cover was followed by a powerful drive through mid-off. Patidar and captain Aditya Shrivastava saw off the remaining time in the day to stamp Madhya Pradesh's authority in the final.
Earlier, Madhya Pradesh got 105 runs in the first session without losing any wicket. The day began with Dubey opening the ace of the bat late to get a boundary past gully. With the ball coming nicely on the bat, Sharma made full use of it, dispatching Deshpande for boundaries through cover drive and square drive.
Dubey reached his fifty with a brace through fine leg off Awasthi while Sharma reached his half-century with a single through square leg off Deshpande. With the duo collecting boundaries and rotating strike by running well between the wickets, Mumbai's troubles increased when Sharma by Armaan Jaffer at short cover, followed by a run-out opportunity gone and three lbw appeals struck down. Sharma and Dubey used their feet well to take runs off Mulani, with the former lofting through the line over the bowler's head for a six.
Dubey accelerated to get boundaries off Mulani and Kotian through mid-wicket and followed it up with a sweep through fine leg off the latter to get a century in the Ranji Trophy final. He brought out the cancel-all-noise celebration, first brought out by KL Rahul, which was applauded by his teammates in the dugout before lunch was called.
After lunch, it was Sharma's turn to get to his three-figure score. He began by timing a drive past mid-off off Mohit Awasthi and an over after the second new ball was taken by Mumbai, Sharma reached his century with a stunning cover drive off Deshpande, also raising the 200-run partnership between him and Dubey.
He also had luck on his side, when outer edge evaded the slip cordon twice. Mumbai almost had Sharma out when the batter reached out for defending but was beaten on outer edge, but with the umpire hearing no noise of the edge, the appeal was struck down.
The ploy of making Sharma reach out forward and beat him on the outer edge worked on the very next ball as the batter tried to reach out again outside the off-stump, only to give a healthy nick behind to Tamore off Awasthi, ending a mammoth 222-run stand which lasted for 73.1 overs.
Patidar walked out and smashed five boundaries, clearing his intentions of attacking the Mumbai bowlers from the word go and would continue the domination to make day three a Madhya Pradesh run-fest.
Mumbai 374 all out in 127.4 overs (Sarfaraz Khan 134; Gaurav Yadav 4/106) lead Madhya Pradesh 368/3 in 123 overs (Yash Dubey 133, Shubham Sharma 116; Mohit Awasthi 1/53, Tushar Deshpande 1/73) by six runs