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The Report by Siddhartha Talya in Mumbai
February 7, 2013
Mumbai 155 for 2 (Jaffer 80, Rahane 55*) trail Rest of India 526 (Raina 134, Vijay 116, Chavan 3-56) by 371 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
It's a battle of the bats at the Irani Cup, as Mumbai responded strongly to Rest of India's 526 on the second day at the Wankhede Stadium.
As was the case on the first day, there was much that unfolded on the second to keep the national selectors interested ahead of the Australia Tests: Suresh Raina reached his second first-class hundred this season to stake his claim for a possible opening in India's middle order, Sreesanth, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ishwar Pandey and Harbhajan Singh each got a bowl, and Wasim Jaffer and Ajinkya Rahane continued to have a productive time in the middle. As the game seemed to meander towards another high-scoring encounter, the focus remained on individual performances.
On the eve of the match, Raina had spoken of his aim to play more than 50 Tests and seeking advice from VVS Laxman about batting with tailenders. He did his Test prospects no harm with an attacking century, and received excellent support from Abhimanyu Mithun at No.8 - the two had made their Test debuts in the same series, in Sri Lanka in 2010. Mumbai's bowling continued to be lackluster - the left-arm spinners picking up wickets long after enough damage had been inflicted and the seamers largely ineffective - claiming just one wicket on the second day and unable to break a 153-run stand for the seventh wicket between Raina and Mithun.
Raina had moved smoothly to 36 at stumps on the first day, and Ambati Rayudu had matched him in a sprightly partnership. He took a while to take charge on the second, scoring his first boundary almost 50 minutes into the morning session after he'd lost Harbhajan Singh. Mithun looked assured at the other end, defending well, and scoring fluently, starting off with a lovely flick off Dhawal Kulkarni through square leg. Raina brought up his fifty off 103 balls, but opened up when part-timer Rohit Sharma was brought on to bowl. He took him for three boundaries in an over, cutting him past point then launching him twice over extra cover.
Even as the field spread out, Raina picked up boundaries with ease through point, targeted the spinners through mid-on and midwicket and struck the seamers hard down the ground. He took just 37 balls to get from 50 to 100, celebrated animatedly after reaching the landmark, and stepped out to Vishal Dabholkar and Ankeet Chavan to smack three more sixes before holing out. Mithun's confidence had grown in the company of his senior partner and he didn't hesitate to dispatch length balls from Kulkarni down the ground, pull and cut him for fours and play the slog-sweep against the spinners en route to his own half-century. Only their pursuit of quick runs appeared to give Mumbai a chance of claiming a wicket, which they did but only after conceding a huge first-innings score.
The Mumbai batsmen, too, were beneficiaries of excellent conditions to score in, and the three-pronged Rest of India pace attack including Sreesanth, Mithun and Pandey could do little against the in-form Jaffer and Rahane until the close. Sreesanth and Mithun offered considerable room for Jaffer to cut and drive which he did with flair, before feasting on a couple of freebies on the leg side from Mithun after tea to raise his fifty. Sreesanth dismissed Jaffer shortly before stumps when he belatedly tried to withdraw from playing a good-length delivery outside off and nicked to the keeper.
Rahane has been in contention for a Test place for a long time. He was watchful at the start but got going against Pandey, reaching out to drive through extra cover for two fours in an over. He was the more restrained during a century stand with Jaffer, but comfortably ended any quiet spell with a boundary, once lofting Pragyan Ojha over mid-on. He reached his half-century with an off-drive off Pandey and set about, not for the first time, pushing his case for a Test berth.
Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Siddhartha Talya
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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