Teja's fight holds up Mumbai's victory charge
Hyderabad 251 (Suman 67, Pai 66, Quadri 50*, Powar 5-67) and 166 for 4 (Teja 107*, Kulkarni 2-28) trail Mumbai 602 for 6 dec by 185 runs
Mumbai are on the brink of an innings victory against Hyderabad, who need another 185 runs to clear the deficit after they were forced to follow-on. Resuming at 82 for 2, Hyderabad folded up for 251 in the first innings. Ramesh Powar took five, ending the visitors' challenge with an attacking spell. Hyderabad, who have six wickets in hand and opener Ravi Teja unbeaten on 107, will hope to bat out the final day for a draw.
On a pitch where patience was needed all round, Teja pulled, hooked, drove, lofted and cut with impunity en route to his second century of the season. Ajit Agarkar was hit for two sixes, Usman Malvi was hooked for one and Powar was lofted over long-on for a fourth. Preferring the big strokes over running, he brought up his hundred with a back-foot drive past cover for four.
However, there was no fight from Hyderabad in the morning session, which Powar dominated. With the fast bowlers not getting any assistance from the pitch and the dry conditions, he posed the biggest hurdle for the visiting batsmen.
Hyderabad began steadily, with TS Suman and Anoop Pai carrying forward the momentum built the previous evening. Suman started the day with two fours off Agarkar. He went past 50 with another four, a forward push past mid-off, and followed it with a flick over the empty square-leg region. Powar replaced Agarkar in the 11th over of the morning and Suman, having read the length well, stepped to hit the offspinner past long-off for a four and then freed his arms for the first six of the day, over long-on.
On a lifeless pitch that hardly turned, and with no breeze to aid the ball drift, Powar had to fall back on his strengths: flight and loop. Smartly, he took the cue from Suman's aggression and tried to draw the batsman further out with variations in flight. Against one such loopy delivery, Suman stepped out to hit a big one, but the leading edge was picked up well by Amol Muzumdar at cover. Abhinav Kumar offered an edge off Malvi soon after. Arjun Yadav was far from settled despite his first five scoring shots being fours - the first four were edges that sneaked through the slips and gully.
Hyderabad now relied on Pai, but he got bogged down by the tentative batting of his partners after reaching his half-century and was eventually dismissed while trying to defend against Powar, giving keeper Vinayak Samant his third catch of the innings.
Hyderabad's hopes of a fightback were dented by a double-strike by Powar in the over before lunch. Yadav's bat-pad push went straight to Vinayak Mane at short leg, and the following ball, MP Arjun tried to play a forward defensive to flighted delivery, but the thin edge was picked brilliantly by Jaffer, who swiftly leaned to his left side. Powar completed his second five-for of the season when he castled Shoaib Ahmed behind the legs.
Powar bowled an unbroken spell of 21-1-40-5. Jaffer's ploy to persist with him worked wonders yet again: in their first round, against Rajasthan, Powar had a spell of 20-3-44-5.
Hyderabad's second innings started ominously. Dhawal Kulkarni picked a wicket in his first over for the second time in the match, trapping Suman, Hyderabad's top scorer in the first innings, plumb in front. At 38 for 3 Hyderabad seemed to be falling apart, but Teja started his assault and got good support from Arjun Yadav. But at the fag end the day, the Hyderabad captain prodded at a legbreak from Sairaj Bahutule, who got his first wicket of the match after Jaffer latched on to another sharp catch at first slip.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo