Opener Saurabh Wakaskar batted patiently to score an unbeaten century and lead Railways' fightback after they conceded a 114-run first innings lead to Mumbai on day three of their Group B Ranji Trophy game on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old left-handed former Baroda batsman, who moved to Western Railway after getting a job as a clerk at the beginning of this season, batted for nearly the entire day to remain unbeaten with 161 off 260 balls to help Railways end the penultimate day at 285 for 1, an overall lead of 171 runs.
Wakaskar, whose career-best in 27 games so-far is 172 made for Baroda, was given splendid support by fellow-opener Ashish Singh (44) when Railways began their second innings after leg spinner Karn Sharma took out the last Mumbai wicket this morning to finish with fine figures of 7 for 91.
Wakaskar and Ashish Singh put on 105 runs for the first wicket before the latter was trapped leg before by Mumbai left arm orthodox slow bowler Vishal Dabholkar.
The team went to lunch at 110 for 1 after Wakaskar, whose previous highest for the season was 93 against Gujarat, was joined by one-down Vairamudi Cheluvaraj, who remained unconquered at close with a sedate 70.
Wakaskar, who hit 15 fours and 2 sixes during his 351-minute stay, and the diminutive Cheluvaraj, who batted for six minutes under four hours, then denied Mumbai any wicket for the entire last two sessions to give Railways an outside chance of forcing a win tomorrow.
The second-wicket duo has put on 180 runs in 343 balls so far on the slow-paced wicket, in the process also exposing the fraility and lack of penetration of the home team's attack.
Mumbai took the new ball after 82 overs when the total was 269 for 1, but neither batsman was troubled. In the morning, the hosts added just one run to their overnight total of 330 for 9, with Nikhil Patil remaining unbeaten on 83.
Brief scores: Railways 217 and 285 for 1 (S Wakaskar not out 161, Ashish Singh 44, V Cheluvaraj not out 70). Mumbai 331 all out (A Herwadkar 145, S Iyer 57, N Patil 83 not out; K Sharma 7 for 91).