Maharashtra make merry at Gahunje

It was a 31-year-old who manufactures bullets at the Ammunition Factory in Khadki who gunned down Saurashtra with a lethal three-wicket burst that sealed the second consecutive victory for Maharashtra in the west zone qualifying group in the Vijay Hazare trophy.

In a day-night match at the MCA stadium in Gahunje, Dominic Muthuswamy's three wickets in 5 minutes crippled Saurashtra who could only manage 235 runs in 50 overs. Maharashtra cruised to the target in 37.2 overs and in the process also picked up a bonus point.

However, it was at 3.21 pm in the afternoon that the match really started tilting in favour of Maharashtra. Saurashtra got to a brisk start with Sheldon Jackson (41) flaying the pacers all over the park. However, Muthuswamy, the tall lanky lad from Khadki who's day job involves operating a bullet manufacturing machine, managed to extract considerable bounce off the strip and also swung the ball away from the batsmen.

His first victim was Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Shah. Muthuswamy's delivery climbed on to the batsman and all he could do was to fend awkwardly at it. The ball took the edge of his bat and flew to Sangram Atitkar at second slip. Next ball, Muthuswamy produced another snorter as his delivery reared up into Arpit Vasavada's throat and as the Saurashtra batsman took his eyes of the ball, it kissed the bat's shoulder before a gleeful Rohit Motwani pouched it.

The 31-year-old's third victim was Sagar Jogiyani as a good length ball moved a touch away from the batsman as he tried to reach the ball without moving his feet. The thick snick was again accepted by Harshad Khadiwale as Saurashtra were left reeling at 55 for four.

Pratik Mehta in the company of Kuldip Raval weathered a spell of hostile bowling from the Maharashtra pacers and took Saurashtra past the 100 run mark. Raval was caught at slip attempting a rash slash off a Shrikant Mundhe delivery. However, Chirag Jani who joined Mehta at the wicket put on 68 runs before Mehta fell for 73.

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