Hyderabad 266 (Quadri 76*, Agarkar 3-44) and 276 for 6 (Rayudu 79, Nag 57, Abdulla 3-72) drew with Mumbai 521 for 2 dec (Rahane 265*, Kukreja 122, Jaffer 107*)
A match heading for a dull draw and crying out for cricketing euthanasia finished amid the farcical scene of all nine Mumbai fielders forming a slip cordon in the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. By the time the mandatory overs started (103rd over onwards, when the match can be called off), Hyderabad had lost only four wickets and Mumbai didn't fancy playing on, happy with the three points for a first-innings lead. Ambati Rayudu was on 65 at that time, and perhaps in expectation of his century, Hyderabad wanted to continue on a still benign track.
At that stage, Rayudu and Abhinav Kumar were well on their way to Hyderabad's first century stand of the season and both batsmen were collecting runs with ease. Mumbai were clearly irritated by having to spend extra time on the field, and when Abhinav was bowled for 49 in the 106th over, he was given a warm send-off by the bowler Abhishek Nayar and wicketkeeper Vinayak Samant.
The field was pushed well back to cut off the boundaries whenever Rayudu was on strike after that, but he had calmly progressed to 75 when left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla started the 111th over. Abdulla gave the ball plenty of flight each delivery in the short duel with Rayudu; the first was lashed back at the bowler who grassed a tough catch, on the next Rayudu charged out and unleashed a lofted on-drive for four, but he perished on the third miscuing a catch to midwicket. Cue over-the-top celebrations from Mumbai, with Abdulla making it a point to run the length of the pitch and joyously race across the batsman as he was trudging back to the pavilion.
Mumbai's annoyance increased as Hyderabad continued to bat, and their mood didn't improve when a short ball was smashed into substitute Omkar Khanvilkar's back at forward short leg. For the final two overs from Nayar (the 116th and 118th), Mumbai decided to have an umbrella field, and every dot ball - even ones that harmlessly sailed to the keeper - was boisterously cheered. After the final over of the match (119th) the Hyderabad side came out to shake hands with the opposition, but the Mumbai camp was not interested, sauntering off to their dressing room, much to the chagrin of Hyderabad coach Venkatapathy Raju.
Raju was happier though with the dogged effort from his batsmen, who played out more than four sessions to ensure the home side continued their trend this season of conceding the first-innings lead but clinging on for a draw.
Mumbai looked at their most threatening early in the day. In the morning's fifth over, Dhawal Kulkarni had a big lbw appeal turned down and an edge off Amol Shinde flew past a diving second slip. Only nine runs had been added on the final day, when birthday boy Ajit Agarkar induced a nick off Shashank Nag which was spilled by Sahil Kukreja at second slip.
The chances became scarcer as the day progressed, and though Mumbai produced a couple of breakthroughs before lunch, there was no final day collapse. The highlight of the morning was a superb catch from Aavishkar Salvi at long-on to dismiss Nag; the fielder initially misjudged it and ran in but recovered well to run back and complete the catch.
That brought in Rayudu, who was initially circumspect, taking 22 deliveries to get off the mark. When Mumbai pressed with four fielders crouching around the bat, Rayudu started to play his strokes: a backfoot slash for four was followed by a down-the-track drive to the long-on boundary in one Ramesh Powar over. Just as the odds on a draw started shortening Mumbai dismissed Anirudh Singh to leave Hyderabad at 144 for 4, with more than 40 overs remaining. Rayudu and Abhinav, however, ended Mumbai's hopes of taking five (or six points) with a defiant partnership.
Mumbai were disappointed at not being able to deliver the knockout blow after keeping Hyderabad on the ropes for the first three days of the match. Their captain Wasim Jaffer laid the blame on the pitch. "The wicket was really dead, we gave ourselves nearly 120 overs, but nothing happened," Jaffer said. "Everybody tried their best, it wasn't due to lack of effort or anything, you couldn't do more than that, the wicket wasn't helping the spinners or the fast bowlers, the odd ball was keeping low but that was not good enough."
The first-innings lead was enough, though, to give Mumbai a five-point cushion over fourth-placed Railways; their chance of making the quarter-finals remains healthy.