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 here on Friday.
For the young batsmen in the 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.
Railways left-arm spinner Murali Karthik greeted him after the century-mark was crossed, having felt the maestro’s sting in the same over. Tendulkar picked a ball in line with the off-stump and sent it soaring over mid-wicket.
The bewilderment on faces of bowlers — seven were used — and fielders turned into acceptance as 21 fours and three sixes came off the master’s blade.
Rahane, shaping up like an earnest pupil at the other end, played the grafter and took the longer route to the three-digit mark in a 200-run stand off 251 balls for the fourth wicket.
Mumbai had earlier elected to bat on winning the toss, losing openers Kaustubh Pawar and Aditya Tare, and Rohit Sharma before the master walked out into the sunshine and applause from the fans.
The scores: Mumbai — 1st innings: Kaustubh Pawar c Rawat b Anureet 24, Aditya Tare b Kartik 47, Ajinkya Rahane (batting) 105, Rohit Sharma run out 18, Sachin Tendulkar c Madkaikar b Anureet 137, Abhishek Nayar (batting) 0, Extras (lb-4, nb-7, w-2) 13; Total (for four in 90 overs) 344.
Fall of wkts: 1-45, 2-100, 3-143, 4-343.
Railways bowling: Krishnakant Upadhyay 18-1-78-0, Hardik Rathod 21-1-64-0, Anureet Singh 17-4-53-2, Sanjay Bangar 8-0-44-0, Murali Kartik 20-2-55-1, Avinash Yadav 5-0-33-0, Shivkant Shukla 1-0-13-0.