Kolkata: Talented Ajinkya Rahane started his Ranji season in style hitting his 15th first-class century as defending champions Mumbai scored 287 for four at stumps, on the first day of their Ranji Trophy Super League match against Bengal, at the Eden Gardens.
Rahane (110, 189 balls, 15x4), who missed Mumbai’s opening encounter against Saurashtra at Rajkot, added 152 runs with skipper Wasim Jaffer (73, 121 balls, 11x4) for the third wicket before Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary (two for 23) bowling his gentle seamers removed them in quick succession.
Jaffer would only blame himself for his indiscretion as he looked almost certain to get his third century in as many innings having reached three-figure mark in both innings against Saurashtra. The skipper who displayed lazy elegance hitting Bengal bowlers with consumate ease chased a widish Tiwary delivery and was snapped up by Wriddhiman Saha behind the stumps.
May be his dismissal had something to do with the lapse of concentration as Rahane was dismissed only couple of overs earlier in the same manner playing at a widish delivery only to be caught by Rohan Banerjee in the slips.
At close of play, Rohit Sharma (37 batting) and all-rounder Abhishek Nayar (13 batting) were at the crease having added 50 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket partnership.
Bengal new-ball bowlers Ranadeb Bose and Ashok Dinda who had showed lot of discipline and character while bowling on a lifeless Feroz Shah Kotla track, couldn’t make use of morning conditions at the Eden after Jaffer elected to bat.
The Bengal pace duo wasted the new ball by spraying it all over without any discipline. Having bowled 42 overs between them, Bose-Dinda duo gave away 136 runs without a single wicket in their kitty.
When openers Sushanth Marathe (11) and Omkar Gurav (38) were batting neither Bose nor Dinda made them play the bulk of the deliveries in the first hour. It was Marathe’s bad luck that he slipped while trying to steal a single pushing the ball to mid-wicket. Sourashis Lahiri ran from his position to whip off the bails. The score was 21 at that time.
Rahane joined Gurav and the duo put on 63 runs for the second wicket. Although they didn’t score at a brisk pace but at the same time didn’t let go any opportunity of scoring through loose deliveries.
Rahane’s drives off the frontfoot were treat to watch as most of the times the fielders didn’t move from their positions. Gurav was however out of the first ball when spin was introduced. It was a straighter one from Lahiri which Gurav played for turn and was pouched in the slips by Arindam Das.
For the next 40 overs, it was hard work for the Bengal bowlers as Jaffer set the tone with some elegant hitting. With Rahane picking up from where he left against Rest of India in the Irani Cup (he scored 191 in the second innings), Tiwary was left clueless.
Even veteran left-arm spinner Shiv Sagar Singh who had replaced Iresh Saxena was hardly effective. Neither did he get much turn nor did he give the ball air as he didn’t cause any trouble for the batsmen.
Rahane completed his century in 166 deliveries but it was pity that Jaffer didn’t get his 42nd ton in first-class cricket.
Brief Scores: Mumbai 287/4 (A Rahane 110, W Jaffer 73, M Tiwary 2/23) vs Bengal.