Suryakumar Yadav’s resourceful century (120, 139b, 18x4) steered defending champion Mumbai to a satisfactory position after early setbacks in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Maharashtra at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday.
Yadav provided the bright spark on the first day with a blend of caution and aggression against an attack that had put the visitors in the driving seat in the first session.
After sending back Abhishek Nayar shortly after lunch to reduce Mumbai to 101 for four, the Maharashtra bowlers had their tails up.
However, Vinit Indulkar (82, 164b, 13x4), returning to the side after five seasons, and the 23-year-old Yadav set about repairing the early damage.
Their partnership of 183 runs in three and quarter hours and 261 balls saw Mumbai go to stumps at 306 for seven after three intensely fought sessions.
Both batsmen enjoyed their share of luck: when on 50, Yadav was let off by wicket-keeper Rohit Motwani who failed to effect a stumping off left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar, and Indulkar was dropped by Kedar Jadhav off off-spinner Chirag Khurana when on 63.
These two lapses cost Maharashtra, but the hard-working seamers Anupam Sanklecha and Samad Fallah brought the visitors some cheer in the 30-minute extended session, getting Indulkar, Yadav and Shardul Thakur, the last two falling to the second new ball.
Earlier, on a sporting wicket that promised to help seamers with the skills to exploit the grass cover and benefit batsmen with neat footwork and sound technique, Maharashtra chose to bowl after winning the toss.
Opener Kaustubh Pawar and Aditya Tare did not last too long. Wasim Jaffer, who had opened with Pawar, seemed well set before paying heavily for an ill-judged and mistimed pull at the stroke of lunch.
Then Nayar departed in the third over after lunch, nicking left-arm seamer Fallah to Jadhav at slip.
However, the combination of the experienced Indulkar as a defensive foil and Yadav as a counter-attacker worked well for the home team as the pair dug in to hold off Maharashtra’s three-pronged seam attack.
Indulkar showed a fierce determination to vindicate his selection while Yadav was all style and class.
“We did not expect them to take the second new ball. We spoke about playing out the day, but that did not happen,” said Yadav, whose century on Wednesday was his first for Mumbai in two years.
The scores: Mumbai — 1st Innings: Wasim Jaffer c Bawne b Mundhe 44, Kaustubh Pawar c Motwani b Fallah 19, Aditya Tare c Fallah b Sanklecha 3, Vinit Indulkar c Motwani b Sanklecha 82, Abhishek Nayar c Jadhav b Fallah 5, Suryakumar Yadav c Khurana b Sanklecha 120, Iqbal Abdullah (batting) 9, Shardul Thakur c Khurana b Fallah 4, Zaheer Khan (batting) 5, Extras (b-4, lb-6, nb-3, w-2) 15; Total (for seven wkts in 84 overs) 306.
Fall of wickets: 1-35, 2-55, 3-92, 4-101, 5-284, 6-295, 7-300.
Maharashtra bowling: Samad Fallah 23-4-71-3, Anupam Sanklecha 18-4-55-3, Shrikant Mundhe 22-5-70-1, Harshad Khadiwale 6-3-23-0, Akshay Darekar 12-0-54-0, Chirag Khurana 3-0-23-0.