Three centuries — Sachin Tendulkar (137), Ajinkya Rahane (129) and Abhishek Nayar (107 not out) — propelled Mumbai to 570 in the first essay against Railways in their Ranji Trophy Group A opener at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. In reply, the visitors were 86-2 at stumps on Day Two.
Following in the footsteps of senior pro Tendulkar and teammate Rahane, Nayar made his presence felt with his ninth first-class ton despite being in danger of running out of partners. “This (big total) is exactly what we wanted. We aimed to start well to set the tone for the season. This performance will help us gain confidence for the rest of the season,” said Nayar, who hit 10 fours and a couple of sixes.
The southpaw’s task of pushing Mumbai to a comforable position got harder when most of the lower middle-order batsmen failed to make useful contributions. Barring Ramesh Powar and Zaheer Khan, there weren’t many helping hands in Nayar’s mission to put the match beyond the opponents.
Powar’s 41 laced with five hits to the fence and Zaheer’s crucial 16 though provided some assistance to the left-hander whose career has been marred by injuries. “Yes, there have been several injuries. These are part and parcel of the game and one shouldn’t think too much about them,” said Nayar. Captain Ajit Agarkar (20), Iqbal Abdulla (9), Dhawal Kulkarni (1) were back in the hut in quick succession and it was left to Zaheer to help Nayar.
“I got a bit sceptical as the ball was turning and bouncing, but somehow we managed to get past the 550-mark and I reached my century. Zak just told me to keep playing my natural game. That boosted my confidence,” Nayar revealed. Will Mumbai take full points from this game? “It’s certainly possible to force a result as it is not a flat deck and it is expected to turn in the next couple of days. Hopefully, we can bowl well and get the desired result,” he said.
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