'Double' Natraj Behera denies Mumbai full points

Natraj BeheraNatraj Behera of Odisha plays a shot against Mumbai in the Ranji match at Wankede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday. PTI

Natraj Behera's fighting hundred denied heavyweights Mumbai full points though the hosts were favourites to beat Orissa in this Group A game. The draw leaves defending champions in a spot of bother going into final two games of the group stage.

Forced to follow on, Behera — who had scored an aggressive 130 in the first innings — led Orissa's march in the second innings, scoring an unbeaten 127, helping his side avoid a heavy defeat at Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday. At stumps on Day Four, Orissa were 356 for five after resuming at 115 for two.

Mumbai secured three points from this match for a total of 23 from six games, but have slipped a place from atop the table. Their next match will be against the table-toppers Karnataka in Bangalore followed by another away game against Gujarat, who too are in contention for a quarterfinal berth.

The task will be made tougher for an 'inexperienced' Mumbai team thanks to the absence of Dhawal Kulkarni and Abhishek Nayar.

Mumbai skipper Wasim Jaffer insisted there was no reason to panic yet and said his team would aim to get the first innings lead in the match against Karnataka. "We have a very young and inexperienced side, so I'm very happy with the way we have performed," he said. "Now our aim for the next to game is to get at least the first innings lead."

Inexperienced bowling coupled by a lax fielding cost Mumbai dear. At the start of the day, Mumbai would have hoped for a repeat of previous day's performance, when the bowlers dismissed the visiting side's batsmen cheaply. However, they failed miserably.

Debutant Pravin Tambe was unable to pick up any wickets on the day after dismissing Orissa's second innings openers on Monday. The home team's leading wicket-taker Vishal Dabholkar too could not make his presence felt nor could medium-pacer Javed Khan, who had picked up four wickets in the first innings.

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