In-form opener Prithvi Shaw’s blitzkrieg and former skipper Aditya Tare’s controlled aggression corner-stoned Mumbai’s six-wicket win over Uttar Pradesh in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground on Sunday. It was Mumbai’s fourth Hazare title, and the second in three editions.
No.3 Tare, the 33-year-old seasoned domestic player, has been around for long enough to nuance the intricacies of a heady run-chase. In 12 years of domestic grind, he has been part of several 300-plus chases. At Kotla, he anchored the chase with his over-run-a-ball unbeaten innings of 118 with hardly any fuss. Shaw in comparison was much faster, and expectedly so, given his naturally aggressive streak and recent resurgence. He smashed 73 off just 39 balls, with 64 of them coming in boundaries, thus furnishing Mumbai with a furious tempo.
This was after Madhav Kaushik reeled out 158 off 156 balls for Uttar Pradesh. The 23-year-old opener, in his maiden List A season, illustrated his quality, but his knock turned out to be inadequate for Uttar Pradesh.
Game time for fans
It was only during Mumbai’s chase that the fans waiting outside the stadium since morning were allowed in. It was worth the wait, as they were treated to about 40 minutes of clean hitting from Shaw. Chasing 313, Shaw gave Mumbai a flying start, as is his wont. He was dropped on 5 inside the circle when he tried to drive fast bowler Aaquib Khan through the off-side. It turned out to be an expensive mistake, and Shaw ensured his adversaries would pay dearly for it.
With four centuries, including a double hundred under his belt, he looked on course for another big score. After getting dropped from the Test side, Shaw seems to be on a mission to return to the Indian team at the earliest. By scoring the most runs in the history of the tournament, he showed that he is a cut above the rest, smacking 827 runs at an average of 165.40 and strike rate of 138.29. The only solace for Uttar Pradesh was that he did not convert this knock to his fifth hundred of the tournament.
The pacers Khan and Yash Dayal were swatted away disdainfully. When left-arm spinner Shivam Sharma was brought on, Shaw scored a boundary off the first ball. Then paused, but after gauging him, he smoked 17 off his next over.
Mavi gets no support
The most threatening bowler for Uttar Pradesh was pacer Shivam Mavi, who generated extra bounce. Shaw, though, was intent on knocking him out of the attack. An early exchange yielded a four. Shaw went after him when on 45—he first drove him through the covers for a four before bringing out the pull shot for a six to reach his half-century in just 30 balls. The stroke had troubled him in the recent past, but his confidence restored, he was quick onto the shot.
Mavi, though, had the last laugh, as he foxed the century-bound Shaw with the extra bounce. Mavi, another junior World Cupper, like Shaw, got the precious wicket in the 10th over. Shaw perhaps misread the bounce a fraction, the ball climbed higher than he had expected and his attempted pull ended in the hands of the deep-square leg fielder, substitute Sameer Rizvi. A familiar sight for those that had seen him in IPL 2020.
However, Shaw had wrecked enough damage—Mumbai were 89 in 9.1 overs when he perished—that his colleagues just needed to bat prudently. Tare bedded in, and around him revolved all-rounders Shams Mulani and Shivam Dube, with 36 (off 43 balls) and 42 not out (of 28 balls) respectively. All of them had ample time to settle in without the pressure of soaring run-rate, thanks to Shaw, undoubtedly the player of the tournament.
Amidst all the batting carnage, the contributions of Dhawal Kulkarni should not be forgotten. His 6 overs cost only 17 runs. The next best economy rate 5.40 on what seemed like a batting beauty.
Tare kept a cool head and kept the scoreboard ticking without playing risky strokes. Mumbai strolled, as Tare and Mulani combined 88 runs in 15.3 overs. Uttar Pradesh needed a heap of wickets to get back into the game. But it never arrived. Dayal returned and removed Mulani in the 31st over, with Mumbai requiring 98 runs for victory. But Tare shut their hopes with a clever counter-attacking plan, smashing Dayal for a hat-trick of fours. Dube too joined the party, and in quick time, Mumbai sealed the victory, entirely dominating their opponents, as they had been in the entire tournament..
Brief Scores: Uttar Pradesh 312/4 (Madhav Kaushik 158 not out, Akshdeep Nath 55; Tanush Kotian 2/54, Prashant Solanki 1/71) lost to Mumbai 315/4 (Aditya Tare 118 not out, Prithvi Shaw 73, Shivam Mavi 1/63) by six wickets.