Irani Cup: RoI on top despite Sachin ton

Master scores record hundred but Mumbai concede 117-run lead

Irani Cup: RoI on top despite Sachin ton

Sachin Tendulkar tuned up brilliantly for the upcoming Test series against Australia by hitting a record equalling 81st first-class century but couldn’t prevent Mumbai from conceding the first-innings lead to Rest of India on the third day of the Irani Cup match here on Friday.

Tendulkar looked in fantastic touch as he hit a sparkling unbeaten knock of 140 off 197 balls as he touched Sunil Gavaskar’s Indian record of 81 first-class hundreds. In the process, the 39-year-old also completed 25,000 runs in first-class cricket.  

However, Tendulkar ran out of partners as Mumbai were all out for 409 thereby conceding a sizeable first innings lead of 117 runs. In the second essay, Rest of India were 27 for one at stumps which enhanced their lead to 144 runs and they have nine wickets in hand.  

Nightwatchman S Sreesanth batting on seven is giving company to Murali Vijay, who is undefeated on 18. Opener Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed for a duck.

The day belonged to Tendulkar, who sent a strong message to the Australian team about his intent, as he struck 18 boundaries and two sixes during his five-hour and 43 minutes of stay at the crease. He played some shots around the wicket and none of the Rest of India bowlers barring S Sreesanth, who dug a few short ones, could ask any probing questions.

Having arrived at the crease in the second over of the day, Tendulkar was hardly troubled by the Rest of India bowlers and his most productive partnership was with Ankeet Chavan (49) that yielded 103 runs for the seventh wicket.  

Tendulkar also added 73 runs with the talented Ajinkya Rahane, who missed out on a deserving century as he was trapped leg before by Harbhajan Singh. The senior offie was the most successful bowler for the Rest grabbing three for 64 from 21 overs as he also dismissed Rohit Sharma for a duck.

Tendulkar treated the good turn-out at the Wankhede Stadium to some good batting. Watchful in the beginning against the swinging ball and the short-pitched stuff dished out by Sreesanth, Tendulkar opened out later with a string of exquisite drives, mostly through the off-side cordon and straight, for fours to reach the landmark 100 in 139 balls with 12 fours and a six each off spinners Harbhajan and Pragyan Ojha.

It was also Tendulkar’s second ton in the Irani Cup game. His earlier one, made in 1989 for Mumbai against the Rest of India, clinched him a place in Krish Srikkanth-led squad for his maiden tour to Pakistan.

Starting with a splendid front-foot extra cover drive off Pandey to the second ball he faced, Tendulkar looked absolutely in command till the end of the innings.

Tendulkar and Rahane were cruising along merrily before Harbhajan broke their fourth wicket stand by trapping the latter leg-before when the batsman tried to sweep. Replays suggested that the ball hit the bat first but umpire Subrat Das had upheld the appeal.

The biggest culprit for Mumbai was Rohit Sharma, who tried an ill-advised heave over mid-wicket and left without scoring in 12 balls and 21 minutes. Captain Abhishek Nayar couldn’t translate his Ranji Trophy form as he edged one from Abhimanyu Mithun to slip cordon.

While Harbhajan dismissed Rahane and Rohit in quick succession to strengthen his claim for off-spinner’s slot, left-arm spinner Pargyan Ojha, who is certainty, was unimpressive as he went over 100 runs for his two wickets.

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