Haryana v Mumbai, Ranji Trophy, Group A, 2nd day October 28, 2013

First-class crowd laps up first-class cricket

For the crowd that has got itself involved with the ebbs and flows of the game for the last two days, the best may be yet to come

Lahli is probably one of the last places where you will expect a decent turnout to appreciate and enjoy a thrilling day of first-class cricket. But not only did the crowd have its fill of watching and clamouring for Sachin Tendulkar's attention, it also generously applauded both sides for some combative play.

It took the impending retirement of one of the greatest cricketers to bring so many heads to a ground considered remotely located even by locals. But once they were here, they did not confine themselves to only the man. It probably helped that he wasn't expected to bat today, and the mass exodus that followed his dismissal on day one wasn't repeating itself today.

Joginder Sharma set the tone in the morning with four wickets in four overs, including two off two deliveries. Mumbai added just 36 to their overnight total of 100 for 4, and 24 of those came from Dhawal Kulkarni's bat.

That got the crowd going early. Of course, they were supporting Haryana overall - while also chanting Tendulkar's name - and loved it when Sunny Singh and Rahul Dewan built the lead for the home side. Boundaries flowed, through covers, to third man. Zaheer Khan soon had a deep point in place, but refused to plug the leak at third man till quite late in the day. Mumbai kept conceding runs in the region, some via edges, others through intentional guides, and the crowd loved it.

They also observed the fielders keenly. A diving stop was immediately recognised with scattered applause, be it at short midwicket, cover or gully. A flying save down the leg side by the Mumbai keeper drew appreciation from all. This was surely not a gathering that had come to watch only big shots, although at times some asked for them.

Their fascination with Tendulkar was a constant accompaniment to the action. The man was also more reciprocal than he usually is. Normally, he acknowledges the hordes by waving a half-raised hand for a moment in their direction. Today, he not only raised his hands over his head and clapped, he also tipped his hat in the direction of the crowd on occasion. Towards the end of the day, the crowd became especially raucous in demanding Tendulkar's attention. He had to ask them to calm down, even as the wily Ajay Jadeja promptly pulled out of his stance with Zaheer steaming in.

Haryana were in the midst of a collapse at this point, against Zaheer and Vishal Dabholkar, the young left-arm spinner. Zaheer gave himself the most overs for Mumbai and was in full flow in a spell of menace and aggression, replete with bouncers and taunts. There is something about a fast bowler charging in than that gets a crowd going, and this one had already been going through the day. They lapped up everything in that passage of play.

Plays and misses by tailenders against a rampaging Zaheer, bouncers thudding into the keepers gloves past flailing batsmen, outside edges to slip, close leaves, the occasional powerful connection to deep mid-off, the brave defence, the repeated glares and words from Zaheer. There had to be some response from the home team. People had seen what drama Zaheer was capable of creating. Harshal Patel, the young fast bowler, provided them the release, hitting Dabholkar for a couple of big sixes in the penultimate over of the day. Those shots brought people to their feet. Prolonged, rapturous applause followed.

A tense final over from Zaheer, which the last Haryana pair managed to survive, dangled the promise of what should be a cracker of probably the last day of Tendulkar's final Ranji match. He can be reasonably expected to have a bat in the chase. Lahli must still be pinching itself for these two days. It will dream the best one is still to come.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ashok on October 29, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    More than Tendulkar's final Ranji match, this is match is being made bizarre by Jadeja's comeback. What exactly does he want? His two innings have been mediocre even by his own standards.

  • Dummy4 on October 29, 2013, 1:01 GMT

    I appreciate this crowd, which applauded good play; irrespective of the player is a star or not. And, irrespective of it is from the home team or the visiting team.

    They behaved like true lovers of cricket, better than many cricket "connoisseurs" , in some of the metropolitan locations. My hats off to these people!

  • Ashok on October 28, 2013, 15:56 GMT

    It is good of crowd to turn up in big numbers to watch Tendulkar's farewell Ranji. But they should not forget that Mumbai also has big stars like Rahane, Nayar, Kulkarni & Zaheer. Actually India could as well include all 4 in the Squad for SA. Zaheer is as much of a legend as far as pace bowling goes. He is still the best in India. So the crowd should be thankful for so many stars on display to provide a feast of a match. Mohit Sharma & Joginder Singh are also in contention for a Test squad for SA. The final day hopefully will be a cracker & do hope that Sachin shows his batting form to please the crowd. When there is a good crowd, the big time players show up & stand to be counted with their performance on the field. Let us see if the Mumbai stars have in them what it takes on the final day to pull off an outright WIN. That will be the biggest crowd pleaser.

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