Mumbai v Hyderabad, Ranji Super League, 2nd day December 3, 2008

Agarkar and Kulkarni maintain Mumbai's advantage

Hyderabad 82 for 2 (Suman 40*, Pai 35*) trail Mumbai 602 for 6 dec (Jaffer 256, Rahane 137, Agarkar 77*, MP Arjun 4-99) by 520 runs

Ajit Agarkar hits out during his unbeaten 77 © Cricinfo Ltd

Hyderabad started on the wrong foot in reply to Mumbai's massive total, losing two early wickets after the hosts declared at 602 for 6. Made to sweat on the first day by Wasim Jaffer and Ajinkya Rahane, Hyderabad finished the second day needing a further 371 runs to avoid the follow-on.

Hyderabad picked up five wickets in the morning session. In the first over, Ashwin Yadav forced an edge from Rahane with an away-going delivery. Amol Muzumdar got off to a brisk start with a couple of fours but the switch to aggression over his usual defensive ways didn't pay off. Muzumdar rushed into a pull shot off a short one from MP Arjun and was easily picked at square leg.

After their poor display on the first day, Hyderabad's fast bowlers exercised tighter control on Wednesday. Not wanting to throw away the overnight advantage, Jaffer and Rohit Sharma, Mumbai's last recognised batting pair, remained patient before opening up. Once spin was introduced, immediately after the first hour, Rohit took advantage: he charged Lalith Mohan to hit him over mid-on for four. Next ball, he went for a repeat, and was beaten in the air, but made some swift adjustments to play a late cut for another four. Jaffer smartly rotated the strike to give his young partner the freedom to attack.

Syed Quadri, the offspinner, was then lofted over long-on for the first six of the day. After a circumspect beginning, Rohit was fast closing in on his half-century, but his aggressive instincts led to his downfall. Trying to clear the in-field against a fuller one from Arjun, Rohit gave an easy catch to cover.

Ramesh Powar was dismissed cheaply, and Hyderabad's best moment arrived when Jaffer, who had cracked a double-century on day one, stepped out against Mohan, only to be beaten in the air. The faint edge was pouched easily behind the stumps. It was Mohan's first wicket and he deserved it - he had frequently beaten the batsmen in the air and also off the pitch, but without reward.

Hyderabad now had a chance to stop Mumbai from posting a huge total, but Ajit Agarkar spoiled those plans. Agarkar, who has two first-class hundreds, played a patient knock that featured five sixes - three over the bowler's head. He was especially severe on Mohan and part-time bowler TS Suman, pulling and charging against them with ease. Though he missed out on getting his maiden Ranji hundred - Jaffer declared just before tea - he took Mumbai to a total out of Hyderabad's reach.

Things did not improve for Hyderabad on resumption as Dhawal Kulkarni stuck first-ball: Ravi Teja went for an unnecessary cut, straight into the safe hands of Rahane at gully. Rushi Raj, who replaced the injured VVS Laxman, did not last long as he feathered an edge to a delivery outside off stump.

It was left for Suman to arrest the downfall. He showed enough character to remain unruffled despite the pressure Mumbai applied. Once the nerves settled, he hit two consecutive fours past midwicket off Usman Malvi. A couple of overs later, he stepped out to hit a straight six off a flighted one by Powar. When Malvi pitched on his legs, Suman clipped it over the square-leg for another six. It is still along way for Hyderbad, who need a long vigil from Suman and the rest to remain in the safe zone.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo