Though Mumbai are still optimistic of a turnaround on the final day, Ambati Rayudu and Manoj Tiwary virtually sealed the Irani Cup title for the Rest of India on the penultimate day.
Rayudu’s unbeaten 118 and Tiwary’s 69 stole the show as RoI finished Day Four at 296 for four — a 413-run lead against 40-time Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.
Suresh Raina, who was dropped at short leg by Kaustubh Pawar (on the field as a substitute for Sachin Tendulkar) on the last ball before the penultimate over of the day, was batting alongside Rayudu at 40 at the end of day’s play. Tendulkar did not take the field for the whole day after his vintage unbeaten 140 on Day Three.
Mumbai had a good first session on Saturday, dismissing Murali Vijay (35) and nightwatchman S Sreesanth (18) early. But India hopefuls Tiwary and Rayudu made the most of their second opportunities.
Rayudu was sublime, but Tiwary looked confused in deciding whether to play on the front foot or back for most of the time. The duo added 140 runs for the fourth wicket.
Rayudu hopes for more tons
Rayudu reached his maiden Irani Cup ton with a classic square cut off Shardul Thakur. Rayudu, who slammed eight half-centuries and one hundred during the eight Ranji matches for Baroda in the just-concluded Ranji season, mixed his aggression and paced his innings well.
“I threw my wicket away in the first innings so I was looking to spend some time at the wicket. I was disappointed that I didn’t get a big hundred during the Ranji season. So, I am looking to do well here,” said Rayudu, who slammed nine fours and four sixes during the 217 balls he faced on Saturday. Saturday’s knock also helped him go past 5000 runs in first-class cricket.
“I had a quality (Ranji) season. I wished I had more hundreds in my first-class career. Hopefully, I will be able to convert most of my half-centuries in the future,” added Rayudu.
Tiwary, who was dropped on one by wicketkeeper Aditya Tare, looked distracted. There was also a bit of a duel between the India batsman and rookie pacer Javed Khan after Tiwary barged into Javed while taking a run. In the next delivery, Javed hurled a bouncer and then walked up to Tiwary to exchange some unpleasantries.
Tiwary, on his part, also had something to say to Javed after the next delivery was bowled. The war of words carried on for the next few deliveries before the umpire stepped in to calm things down.
Tiwary may have felt undone by poor umpiring, but it wasn’t the case this time. The ball elevated a bit more after hitting the forearm, but a top edge was clear. Wasim Jaffer took the catch behind the wicketkeeper off left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar. But it was too late by then for Mumbai’s cause.
Rest of India 526 and 296 for four in 95 overs (Ambati Rayudu 118 not out, Manoj Tiwary 69; Shardul Thakur 1-25).
Mumbai 409 all out in 114.1 overs (Sachin Tendulkar 140 not out, Ajinkya Rahane 83; Harbhajan Singh 3-64)