Agarkar shines as Mumbai squeeze Baroda
Baroda 167 for 5 trail Mumbai 645 for 9 decl. (Jaffer 150, Nayar 132, Tendulkar 108) by 478 runs
Mumbai buried Baroda under a mountain of runs on a flat track, and then watched irresponsible Baroda batsmen crumble under the weight. In reply to the hosts' 645 for 9 declared, Baroda got off to a good start, but their batsmen played irresponsible shots to be reduced to 157 for 5, a predicament from which there seems no way back. Not against Mumbai, renowned masters of the game of not letting the opposition back down once.
It has been thus right from the time Wasim Jaffer and Sachin Tendulkar came together to bat on the first morning. Abhishek Nayar carried their good work forward on day two, and while he could add only 10 to his overnight 122 on day three, their bowlers did the job, both with the bat and the ball. Nayar fell at 563 for 8, but Ajit Agarkar and Javed Khan attacked the tired Baroda bowlers with a 73-run stand in 13.1 overs.
Agarkar, the better batsman of the two, relied more on finding gaps and picking twos while Javed hit four sixes, one of which resulted in a lost ball. Javed holed out just before reaching fifty, but Agarkar brought up his 16th in first-class cricket. Not many expected Mumbai to declare - what with the possibility of a sixth day in the match - but they asked Baroda to bat for 25 minutes before lunch.
Those 25 minutes didn't bring much nerves as openers Saurabh Wakaskar and Aditya Waghmode continued with what has been a fruitful season. The same continued in the post-lunch session, although the openers remained content in defence, reaching 93 for 0 by tea. After tea, though, Mumbai's move of playing two left-arm spinners began to work. Debutant Vishal Dabholkar broke through soon after Wakaskar reached his fifty, and Baroda their hundred. He pushed at a length ball that didn't turn enough, and moving to his right at slip, Wasim Jaffer took a catch more difficult than the kind Yusuf Pathan kept dropping at slip.
Waghmode survived an easy stumping soon after, but his partner Abhimanyu Chauhan, who had shackled himself, didn't enjoy such luck. Dhawal Kulkarni had pushed him back with short balls, Chauhan was stuck at 0 off 20 balls, but the 21st was pitched up, and snuck through the gap created by his staying on the crease. Not that Waghmode made much of his luck: he went to punch a ball rising higher than the waist and angling away, and managed a nick to provide relief to wicketkeeper Aditya Tare, who gleefully accepted the chance.
Even before Yusuf Pathan could confound with his slash-slash-miss-miss innings, Kedar Devdhar fell lbw to Dabholkar. Agarkar came back to account for the reckless Yusuf, who toe-ended a pull shot to mid-on. Ambati Rayudu, who had been off the field with illness, came to bat at No. 7, but he is left with too much to do.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo