Kulkarni and Powar put Mumbai on top
Mumbai 307 and 30 for 2 (Mathur 2-10) lead Rajasthan 204 (Saxena 76, Kulkarni 5-40, Powar 5-44) by 133 runs
Five-wicket hauls from Ramesh Powar and debutant Dhawal Kulkarni helped Mumbai gain a sizeable first-innings lead at the Brabourne Stadium, placing their team in a position from where they can now aim for an outright victory. Although Rajasthan did well to earn two wickets in Mumbai's second innings late in the day, the hosts finished 133 ahead at stumps.
Rajasthan got off to a positive start in the morning after Mumbai, resuming on 293 for 8, folded for 307. In reply, Rajasthan suffered a jolt when Kulkarni bagged two wickets in two overs when he had Shubhanshu Vijay and Nikhil Doru caught in the slips by Sahil Kukreja in identical fashion. Kulkarni maintained an off-stump line, trying to make best use of the new ball, and both batsmen fell to reckless shots.
After Kulkarni's double-strike, Venugopal Rao and Vineet Saxena progressed calmly. However, Powar's introduction at the Churchgate End worked in Mumbai's favour. Rao, who was connecting with ease against the fast bowlers, seemed flustered against Powar's offspin and the bounce he got off the pitch.
In a careless moment, Rao went for the slog-sweep, and was caught well by Agarkar at long leg. His fell a few overs before lunch, and Powar struck twice in an over after the break. Ashok Menaria's unconvincing prod resulted in only an edge that was caught easily by keeper Vinayak Samant. Five balls later, Robin Bist, the last specialist batsman, played all over a simple offbreak and Ajinkya Rahane picked an easy bat-pad offering at silly point.
Powar bowled an unchanged spell of 20-3-44-5, his best figures in the past year. His previous five-for came in an away game against Tamil Nadu last season. At the other end Kulkarni bowled with purpose - pitching it fuller and trying to move the ball in. He smartly mixed it up with the shorter ones that would lift suddenly. His best dismissal was that of Gagan Khoda, Rajasthan's senior-most batsman. Khoda had hit two fluent cover drives for four off Kulkarni in the third over after the lunch. But Kulkarni, who impressed for Mumbai Indians during the IPL, sensed his opponent's aggressive approach; he pitched one on length and moved it slightly away and Khoda, who had already committed to the stroke, could only nick one to Wasim Jaffer at first slip.
Mumbai were frustrated by the final-wicket pair of Saxena and Gajendra Singh, who added 52. Saxena used his feet well especially against spin and cleared the infield frequently to pick some easy runs. He was the solitary batsman to play his shots and didn't allow the bowlers to get on top. Jaffer had to go to Kulkarni to deliver the breakthrough. The bowler, in his fourth spell, ended Saxena's resistance, becoming only the seventh Mumbai bowler to bag a five-for on debut. Hormasji Vajifdar, Eknath Solkar, Suru Nayak, Balwinder Sandhu, Amit Dani and Manish Patel had achieved the feat in the past.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo