Mohit Sharma lived his Sachin Tendulkar moment. He got the master’s wicket, and triggered an exodus in the stands. Tendulkar’s laboured return to the dressing room was in sharp contrast to the crowd’s response: a hasty exit.
Cricket was both exciting and mundane as Mumbai, ending the day at 100 for four, gained early advantage against Haryana in the Ranji Trophy contest at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Stadium here on Sunday.
On the opening day, Haryana was put in and bowled out, and Lunch was taken.
The total was a paltry 134, but it did not matter. The crowd was loyal to Tendulkar, and welcomed every move that hastened his arrival to the middle.
But for Mohit belting an entertaining 49, Tendulkar, perhaps, would have walked to the middle much earlier.
It was Mohit, again, who cut short Tendulkar’s stay at the crease with a ball that cruelly, in the opinion of the crowd gathered, found its way to hit the stumps.
As he shaped to block the ball, it hit his arm, rolled on to his thigh before dislodging the bails, dealing a lethal blow to the audience more than the Mumbai dressing room.
The disappointed spectators dispersed in a steady stream even as the visiting team began the process of rebuilding on a pitch that tested the batsman’s temperament more than technique.
The outfield was slightly greener than the pitch but the conditions seemed to play on the minds of the batsmen, most of them tentative, allowing the bowlers to dictate.
Zaheer Khan bowled with restraint while Javed Khan let the ball rip.
The best, however, was Abhishek Nayar, who kept it simple, pitching it up and making the batsman play. In the process he reaped four wickets before Mohit launched a counter-attack that livened up the morning session.
The ball was seaming, swinging, and occasionally kicking. It was the extra bounce that brought grief to Tendulkar and the spectators, VVS Laxman among them.
The Hyderabadi had timed a private visit to the region to accommodate this tribute to a “dear friend.” The subsequent sessions only highlighted the need to put bat to ball firmly.
The dismissals of the Mumbai top order suggested a rapid decline of batsmen’s reputation for the day until Ajinkya Rahane and Aditya Tare stepped in and took control to give the Mumbai innings the direction it needed.
The scores: Haryana — 1st innings: Rahul Dewan c Shah b Kulkarni 5, Nitin Saini run out 3, Sunny Singh c Shah b Zaheer 3, Abhimanyu Khod c Kulkarni b Javed 27, Ajay Jadeja c Shah b Javed 14, Sachin Rana b Nayar 2, Harshal Patel c Tare b Nayar 10, Joginder Sharma b Nayar 3, Jayant Yadav b Nayar 5, Mohit Sharma lbw b Dabholkar 49, Ashish Hooda (not out) 6, Extras (lb-5, nb-2) 7; Total (in 35.3 overs) 134.
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-10, 3-16, 4-44, 5-55, 6-59, 7-70, 8-71, 9-97.
Mumbai bowling: Zaheer Khan 10-1-38-1, Dhawal Kulkarni 9-2-40-1, Javed Khan 5-0-12-2, Abhishek Nayar 10-0-38-4, Vishal Dabholkar 1.3-1-1-1.
Mumbai — 1st innings: Wasim Jaffer c Khod b Joginder 14, Kaustabh Pawar b Hooda 8, Ajinkya Rahane (batting) 44, Sachin Tendulkar b Mohit 5, Abhishek Nayar c Yadav b Mohit 24, Dhawal Kulkarni (batting) 1, Extras (lb-2, nb-1, w-1) 4; Total (for four wkts. in 44 overs) 100.
Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-32, 3-38, 4-94.
Haryana bowling: Mohit Sharma 14-6-27-2, Harshal Patel 10-1-32-0, Ashish Hooda 11-3-22-1, Sachin Rana 5-2-12-0, Joginder Sharma 4-2-5-1.