Rest of India leave Mumbai with mammoth task
Mumbai 26 for 0 (Jaffer 18*) trail Rest of India 668 (Mukund 161, Parthiv 125, Badrinath 94, Kohli 90, Dhawan 83, Ashwin 73, Kulkarni 5-148) by 642 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Rest of India extended their advantage on the second day, leaving Mumbai with the mammoth task of having to surpass 668 to gain a potentially decisive first-innings lead. Though Dhawal Kulkarni struck with three early wickets, Parthiv Patel's hundred and half-centuries from Virat Kohli and R Ashwin ensured the day belonged to Rest of India.
There was hope early in the morning for Mumbai, after seamer Kulkarni dismissed Abhinav Mukund, S Badrinath and captain Yuvraj Singh in quick succession. Both seamers Kulkarni and Usman Malvi got some away movement outside the off stump.
Kulkarni bowled a nagging length and had the left-handers in trouble with the angle from round the wicket. He got Mukund, who had looked a bit tentative, to edge an away-going delivery to gully in the ninth over of the day. Badrinath, meanwhile, had been pushed onto the back foot by the away movement. Four overs later, Kulkarni bowled Badrinath, six short of a hundred, as he played from the crease to a delivery that came in with the angle. Much was expected from Yuvraj, but he didn't last long. In his next over, Kulkarni took out his middle stump with a fuller one from round the wicket; Yuvraj playing all around it from the crease. Rest of India, on 353 for 1 at one stage, were suddenly 367 for 4.
But Kohli and Parthiv ensured the advantage didn't slip, adding 158 for the fifth wicket at close to five runs an over. Kohli stuck mostly to the Sunil Gavaskar school of batting. Anything outside off was left alone with a monk's discipline, and when the bowler pitched it straight or drifted onto his pads, he took full toll, driving gracefully and powerfully in the arc between extra cover and mid wicket.
One over from Abhishek Nayar, about an hour before lunch, typified Kohli's approach. The first ball was full, close to off stump, and was straight driven for four in a flash. The next four balls, wide outside off, were left alone. When Nayar pitched the last delivery fuller and closer to the stumps, he was hammered through extra cover. However, like Shikhar Dhawan on the first day, Kohli missed out on a hundred when in total control, hitting a Ramesh Powar long hop straight to midwicket on 90.
If Kohli dominated against the seamers, Parthiv was all footwork against the spinners, welcoming Powar with consecutive boundaries. He went over the infield when they flighted the ball, rocked back to play the cut and pull when they dropped it short, and was quick to use his feet on most occasions. Fifteen of his 18 fours came against the spinners. One of them to the midwicket boundary off Iqbal Abdulla brought up his 13th first-class century.
After Kohli fell, Parthiv and Ashwin compounded Mumbai's misery with the fourth century-plus stand of the innings at almost a run-a-ball. Ashwin played with all the assurance of a batsman averaging in the late-30s in first-class cricket. He lofted and cut the spinners, and pulled the seamers for boundaries. He mixed the powerful shots with some deft late cuts and guides, getting to his seventh first-class half-century with one such steer to third man.
Kulkarni returned to take two late wickets to finish with his seventh first-class five-wicket haul. But he sorely lacked support from the other bowlers, and had Ajit Agarkar been able to bowl (he didn't take the field today because of dehydration), maybe the story could have been different for Mumbai.
Their openers began well though, facing ten overs without any fuss. Mumbai will need a gargantuan batting effort to make anything out of this match.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo