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Inspired Munaf leaves Mumbai wilting

Stumps Mumbai 453 and 98 for 6 (Munaf 3-19) lead Rest of India 472 (Parthiv 179, Tiwary 130, Verma 5-97) by 79 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

After staring down the barrel the first day and restoring some parity on the second, Rest of India (ROI) ended a dramatic third day of the Irani Trophy with victory over Mumbai clearly in sight. Some classical tailend batting from Ranadeb Bose and Munaf Patel gave ROI a vital first-innings lead before a batting collapse - inspired by Munaf - left Mumbai 79 runs ahead with four wickets in hand and two full days to play.

Given the time in hand, ROI's taking the lead over Mumbai should have been insignificant but instead it proved inspirational. Munaf, so lacklustre with the ball earlier in the match, came out with his tail-end heroics fresh in his mind while Mumbai appeared somewhat demoralized. His direct hit to run out Sahil Kukreja got the ball rolling before Ishant Sharma and Ranadeb Bose each picked up a wicket early.

Then Munaf, charging in first-change and getting the ball to move in towards the batsmen, snapped Mumbai's back. His first victim was Prashant Naik, shouldering arms to one that jagged back in sharply. Then Abhishek Nayar, one of the first-innings centurions, was drawn into playing at one that moved away, edging to Aakash Chopra at second slip. Ramesh Powar had no clue about an in-swinger that hit the top of off stump. Three swift strikes had Mumbai tottering and their hopes now rest on Wasim Jaffer, who looked comfortable during his unbeaten 21, and Ajit Agarkar.

The day began with Tiwary and Parthiv Patel, the overnight batsmen, opening up at a canter. The first over went for 12 and the first seven yielded 46 as Tiwary exposed the placidity of the surface. He'd played second fiddle to Parthiv on day three but danced down the track to the first ball from Iqbal Abdulla and lofted him over the long-on boundary. Everything short was hooked, busting Mumbai's notion that the short ball might trouble him. None of the bowlers had enough pace to bother him

Parthiv fell to a smart return catch from Abdulla for a career-best 178 but Tiwary raced from his overnight 56 to 101 in 31 balls, a thick edge to bring up his century being the only false stroke.

Verma's persistence with the new ball brought Mumbai back into the match, for a while, as Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha fell in succession and Verma bowled Tiwary to complete a well-deserved five-wicket haul. The burst from Munaf later in the day aside, Verma was the best bowler on either side always looking to do something with the ball, even with his limited pace.

However, ROI clawed back thanks to some classical tail-end batting from Bose and Patel, coupled with perplexing tactics from Mumbai. When Munaf came in to join Bose after Tiwary departed on the stroke of lunch, ROI were 35 behind. In a tense span of 57 minutes after the interval Munaf and Bose prodded, edged, played and missed, survived close shouts, but crucially got ROI past the line.

With the score at 434, Abhishek Nayar had some bad fortune when what sounded like a nick off Bose turned out to be kiss on the bail which refused to budge. Two balls later, Munaf walked in front of the stumps and was hit on the pads dead in front, but was not given out. Munaf then hit three boundaries in one Abdulla over really rub it in before he and Bose fell in quick succession.

Mumbai didn't help their cause by setting defensive fields for the tailenders. All through Munaf's innings, the field was set with a deep long-off, a long-on, a third man and a midwicket. With just eight runs required, Abdulla bowled with six fielders on the boundary.

ROI are now favourites to win the game tomorrow thanks to their rejuvenated performance.