Yuvraj leaves Mumbai facing mammoth chase
Mumbai 274 and 79 for 0 (Jaffer 46*) need another 703 runs to beat Rest of India 668 and 387 for 3 dec (Yuvraj 204*, Mukund 63, Badrinath 61, Powar 2-75)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Yuvraj Singh, the Rest of India captain, smashed an unbeaten 204 off 194 balls to increase his side's lead to mammoth proportions, and leave Mumbai chasing a near-impossible 782 in the fourth innings. Yuvraj, whose failure in the first innings cost him a vital opportunity to impress the India selectors, made up for that with a knock of characteristic belligerence as Mumbai's attack wilted on the fourth day.
He struck 28 fours and five sixes, and was supported by steady sixties from the Tamil Nadu pair of Abhinav Mukund and S Badrinath, who carried on from where they left things in the first innings. Yuvraj declared on reaching his double century, leaving Mumbai facing a tough ask if they were to save the game. Wasim Jaffer, the Mumbai captain, was up to the task, scoring a patient 46 to take them to stumps, in the company of Ajinkya Rahane, after Sushant Marathe was forced to retire with a wrist injury.
How Yuvraj would fare in the second innings was one of the few points of interest left in the game, after Rest of India had chosen not to enforce the follow-on on the third day. And he didn't disappoint the sizeable crowd that had turned up on Monday morning. He began with three fours in the first over of the day, bowled by Dhawal Kulkarni. He played straight for the most part, making a conscious effort to get forward, and drove imperiously in the arc between midwicket and extra cover.
In the eighth over of the day, he was struck on the helmet by a short delivery from Usman Malvi, missing the line while attempting a half-hearted pull off the front foot. He tightened his technique against the short ball thereafter, pulling the same bowler for four in his next over. Yuvraj was bothered by the incoming delivery from round the wicket a few times but, to his credit, he saw off the threat.
The lack of pace - both from the bowlers and off the pitch - forced Yuvraj to defend a lot of deliveries in the first half of his innings. He increased the pace as he neared three figures, moving from 95 to 107 with three consecutive fours off Kulkarni, reaching his 18th first-class hundred with an exquisite flick past midwicket.
Mukund and Badrinath were hardly troubled during their stays before falling to Ramesh Powar, who got some reward for flighting the ball consistently. There was no such luck against Yuvraj, though, who opened up against the spinners after his century, lofting and pulling them for five sixes over the leg side. He reached his second first-class double hundred in the penultimate over before tea, sweeping Rohit Sharma to square leg. The first hundred had taken 121 deliveries, but the next one came in 69 as Mumbai merely awaited the declaration.
Defending a mountain of runs, Rest of India bowled as well as the pitch allowed them to, but Jaffer, and later, Rahane, were hardly troubled in benign conditions. Mumbai will need more of it tomorrow if they are to draw the game.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo