Mumbai fails to overhaul RoI’s total; Sreesanth bowls with purpose and verve

With Sachin Tendulkar at the striker’s end and S. Sreesanth at the top of his bowling mark, a powerful contest was imminent. Both meant business and those present at the Wankhede Stadium thoroughly enjoyed an engaging contest between the master batsman and mercurial seamer.

The fascinating duel between the two was the highlight of the third day of the Irani Cup match between Mumbai and Rest of India here on Friday. In the end, Tendulkar ran out of partners to remain undefeated on 140 (197b, 18x4, 2x6) as Mumbai was bowled out for 409 to trail by 117 runs. Later, Shikhar Dhawan fell to a superb catch by Abhishek Nayar as Rest finished the day at 27 for one.

Rendered out of action for months because of damaged toes, and keen to return to international cricket, Sreesanth bowled with fire in his belly and with purpose to engage Tendulkar in a tussle that was really uplifting. The seasoned batsman won the battle as he proceeded towards a record-equaling 81 centuries in First Class cricket and crossed 25,000 runs in his silver jubilee season.

Exciting duel

Sreesanth generated and varied the pace, swung the ball and peppered the champion with short balls. On his part, Tendulkar proved equal to the task, swaying away from the line and ducking and once even took a body blow; but he also repelled the aggressive opponent with some effortless orthodox strokes in front of the wicket.

Tendulkar arrived soon after night-watchman Shardul Thakur had become a victim to Ishwar Pandey. The rookie medium-pacer kept Tendulkar quiet by directing his deliveries around the off stump. Barring an off-drive, off the second ball he faced, Tendulkar was willing to play second fiddle to Ajinkya Rahane, but not for long as he strove hard to push the scoring rate with classic shots.

Sreesanth, who bowled an eventful six overs in the first hour, returned to send down another four overs with the second new ball (claimed after 88 overs) as he looked eager to sustain the skirmish with Tendulkar. Though he may not have been lucky with wickets, the energy levels he showed ought to convince the selectors that he’s not far away from attaining fitness and form to get a recall.

Rahane unlucky

While Tendulkar took centre-stage with a steadfast century, Rahane made 83 and was unlucky to be adjudged leg before. Rohit Sharma and Nayar failed to stake their claims for Test selection thanks to some poor shots, while Kulkarni and Javed Khan gifted their wickets to leave Tendulkar stranded.

The scores:

Rest of India — 1st innings: 526.

Mumbai — 1st innings: W. Jaffer c Rayudu b Sreesanth 80, A. Tare c Tiwary b Pandey 6, A. Rahane lbw b Harbhajan 83, S. Thakur c Tiwary b Pandey 4, S. Tendulkar (not out) 140, Rohit c Ojha b Harbhajan 0, A. Nayar c Vijay b Mithun 1, A. Chavan c Saha b Mithun 49, D. Kulkarni c Vijay b Ojha 10, Javed Khan c Mithun b Harbhajan 8, V. Dabholkar lbw b Ojha 0; Extras (b-6, lb-7, nb-13, w-2): 28; Total (in 114.1 overs): 409.

Fall of wickets: 1-14, 2-146, 3-161, 4-234, 5-254, 6-257, 7-360, 8-399, 9-409.

Rest of India bowling: Sreesanth 21-3-80-1, Pandey 24-6-76-2, Mithun 21-1-73-2, Ojha 26.1-1-103-2, Harbhajan 21-4-64-3, Tiwary 1-1-0-0

Rest of India — 2nd innings: S. Dhawan c Nayar b Kulkarni 0, M. Vijay (batting) 18, S. Sreesanth (batting) 7; Extras (nb-2) 2; Total (for one wkt. in five overs): 27

Fall of wicket: 1-0.

Mumbai bowling: Kulkarni 3-1-10-1, Nayar 2-0-17-0.

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