It’s difficult to predict the emotions Sachin Tendulkar was experiencing after returning to the pavilion at close of play on Day Three of Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy opener against Haryana at the Bansi Lal Stadium.
But what would definitely have left the maestro chuckling is the situation that the defending champions find themselves in: needing 39 runs to win with four wickets in hand on the last day of the clash.
This is a circumstance that Tendulkar, batting on a valiant 55, has found himself in on numerous occasions during the course of his illustrious 24-year career. And as luck would have it, Mumbai’s fate in this game depends on how the Little Master fares when the hosts come out all guns blazing in the morning session today.
It was certainly not one of Tendulkar’s free-flowing innings: the feet, hands and the body took a while to get in sync, but once they did, the confidence, the glowing cover drives and the tap for singles and comfortable twos were back.
Mumbai closed the day at 201-6 in pursuit of 240, and had it not been for Tendulkar’s resilience, the visitors would probably have had to deal with a vastly different script, irrespective of the fact that opener Kaustubh Pawar and the number three Ajinkya Rahane contributed 47 and 40 respectively.
Having bowled Haryana out for 241, Mumbai suffered a setback in the second over of the chase when their ever-dependable opener Wasim Jaffer nicked the ball to wicketkeeper Nitin Saini off Harshal Patel: a rare loose shot by the veteran, presumably distracted by some movement next to the sight screen.
However, a patient, cautious and sensible 86-run partnership between Pawar and Rahane threatened to make it a comfortable ride for Mumbai
thereafter. That’s when there was another twist in the tale with off-spinner Jayant Yadav deceiving Rahane with a flatter delivery which spun to castle
Pawar did not last long, getting out caught behind off paceman Mohit Sharma with the team’s score on 109. But Mumbai recovered once again and appeared to be cruising with Abhishek Nayar and Tendulkar putting on 51. That’s when Nayar let things slip with a careless shot which was dragged on to the stumps off Ashish Hooda.
Thereafter, Aditya Tare got run out to a direct throw from Harshal Patel from deep mid-wicket while attempting a lazy third run, and Hiken Shah holed out an unnecessary catch to Ajay Jadeja at extra cover off Mohit Sharma. Mumbai were now 6 down with 190 on the board. Dhawal Kulkarni who came in next didn’t panic and ensured that he gave Tendulkar some able company.
Mumbai 136 and 201-6 (Sachin Tendulkar 55*, Kaustubh Pawar 47, Ajinkya Rahane 40, Mohit Sharma 2-65) vs Haryana 134 and 241 (Sunny Singh 63, Vishal Dabholkar 4-54, Zaheer Khan 4-62)