The young Railways side under Sanjay Bangar got to see a great master at work, as Sachin Tendulkar (137 off 136 balls) and Ajinkya Rahane (105 batting, 207 balls) helped host Mumbai reach 344 for four on the first day of their Ranji Trophy encounter on Friday.
For the young batsmen in Railways ranks, watching Tendulkar milk runs off their bowlers at the Wankhede was a lesson in itself about the nuances of batsmanship.
Rahane said he benefited too; talking about sharing strike time with his senior Mumbai partner, he said: “He made my work so easy. All I had to do was take singles, give him the strike and then watch him bat from the other end.”
For Tendulkar at the business end, the ball mattered and each delivery was to be dealt with on merit, the bowler’s identity consigned to the background in his cricketing brain. He decided on the terms of engagement from the crease, leaning into strokes without any hint of indecision.
Railways may have felt encouraged when the maestro needed 31 balls to get his first boundary, but that just turned out to be the calm before the storm.
He took time to get his eye in, and his feet moving, and then unfurled the master-class, frame by frame in real-time, for the benefit of youngsters in rival ranks and fans filling up the public stands at Wankhede as word spread about his appearance.
When Anureet Singh finally got him caught at slip, flashing an upper-cut to a short-pitched ball on off-stump, Tendulkar had by then floored the attack with classic strokes and improvised ones.
Round one, day one:
At Kolkata: Bengal 187 for four in 59 overs (Subhomoy Das 95, Manoj Tiwary 42) vs. Rajasthan. Toss: Rajasthan.
At Indore: Gujarat 327 for five in 90 overs (Parthiv Patel 162, Venugopala Rao 45, Manprit Juneja 42 batting) vs. Madhya Pradesh. Toss: MP.
At Mumbai: Mumbai 344 for four in 90 overs (Aditya Tare 47, Ajinkya Rahane 105 batting, Sachin Tendulkar 137) vs. Railways. Toss: Railways.
At Mohali: Hyderabad 244 for seven in 90 overs (Akshath Reddy 63) vs. Punjab. Toss: Punjab.
At Vadodara: Baroda 308 for four in 90 overs (Aditya Waghmode 121 batting, Irfan Pathan 105 batting) vs. Karnataka. Toss: Karnataka.
At Rohtak: Haryana 55 in 37.1 overs (Sandeep Singh four for 11, Umesh Yadav five for 18) vs. Vidarbha 78 for two in 37 overs. Toss: Vidarbha.
At Cuttack: Tamil Nadu 66 for two in 31 overs vs. Odisha. Toss: Odisha.
At Ghaziabad: Delhi 235 in 65.2 overs (Mithun Manhas 42, Puneet Bisht 52, Imtiaz Ahmed five for 59) vs. Uttar Pradesh 40 for one in 13 overs. Toss: UP.
At Anantapur: Services 73 for five in 28 overs vs. Andhra. Toss: Andhra.
At Nadaun: Kerala 196 for eight in 73.4 overs (Sanju Samson 100 batting) vs. Himachal Pradesh. Toss: Kerala.
At Jammu: Jammu & Kashmir 195 in 56.5 overs (Adil Rishi 41, Hardeep Singh 49 n.o.) vs. Jharkhand 81 for one in 29 overs (Rameez Nemat 42 batting). Toss: J&K.
At Guwahati: Assam 220 for five in 90 overs (Dheeraj Jadhav 127 batting, Gokul Sharma 41, Timir Chanda five for 50) vs. Tripura. Toss: Assam.