Rohit Sharma, Nayar lead Mumbai`s fightback against Rajasthan

Mumbai: After conceding huge ground in the first two sessions of the second day, Mumbai on Friday fought back against holders Rajasthan through their third wicket pair of Rohit Sharma and Abhishek Nayar in their Elite Group A Ranji Trophy match at the Brabourne Stadium here.

The hosts, through some poor bowling, allowed Rajasthan to build up a huge first innings total of 530, after the visitors had resumed at 309 for 4, and then were tottering at 22 for 2 before Sharma led the charge with a belligerent, chancy unbeaten 55 in 59 balls with 11 fours.

At stumps, the 39-time champions were 104 for 2, with Sharma having batted for 80 minutes in the company of Nayar, who was unconquered on 32 in 57 balls with six fours.

Rajasthan had knocked Mumbai out of the contest last year at the quarter final stage and it would be yet another difficult task for Mumbai on Saturday to rub off the 426-runs deficit.

A lot depends on Sharma, let off twice by the visitors in his attacking knock, and Nayar, who escaped being run out when the score was 31.

The duo came together at the fall of opener and captain Wasim Jaffer to a poor shot, a mistimed pull off a short ball from the tall and well built Pankaj Singh who had also accounted for the other opener - Kaustubh Pawar for a duck - with a superb outswinger.

Mumbai could have been 31 for 4 had not Sharma been dropped at short extra cover on 2 by substitute fielder Vaibhav Deshpande off Deepak Chahar. Later his edge off Pankaj Singh went past a static rival captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar in the slips.

At the other end, Nayar was clearly out of the crease in a bad mix-up with his partner but regained the crease because of a misdirected throw from the deep to wicket keeper Rohit Jhalani.

Earlier, Rajasthan piled on the huge total after resuming on Friday, building mainly on Robin Bisht`s unconquered 82, Jhalani`s 39 and Pankaj Singh`s 20-ball 34 with two sixes and four boundaries.

The joy of seeing the back of rival captain Kanitkar, who made 141 in 162 balls with 17 hits to the fence before being caught behind after adding 12 runs to his overnight 129 - just after the first hour`s play - did not last long as Bisht and Jhalani forged a stand of 59 runs.

Murtuza Hussain got rid of Kanitkar, before Bisht and Jhalani took the score near the 400 mark when Iqbal Abdulla, who was pretty unimpressive till then, sent back the rival wicket keeper and Chahar, while Dhawal Kulkarni dismissed Vivek Yadav to leave Rajasthan at 436 for 8.

Gajendra Singh (31 off 44 balls) added 49 runs with Bisht before becoming Kulkarni`s fourth victim and then last man Pankaj Singh struck lusty blows to increase the total substantially with a stand of 45 with Bisht.

Abdulla sent back the tail-ender to finish with 3 for 91, while Kulkarni (4 for 110) and Hussain (2 for 97) were the other successful Mumbai bowlers.

When the home team replied, Pankaj Singh and Chahar bowled a fuller length and moved the ball late to trouble Mumbai openers Jaffer and Pawar before Pankaj dismissed the latter in the third over with 9 runs on the board.

Nayar, promoted in the order, started in aggressive fashion but saw his captain Jaffer depart to a catch at mid on. He and Sharma steadied the innings with the latter taking the attack to the rival side with his fluent driving through the covers.

Brief scores

Rajasthan : 530 all out in 152.2 overs (V Saxena 53, H Kanitkar 141, R Parida 67, R Bisht not out 82; D Kulkarni 4 for 110, I Abdulla 3 for 91).

Mumbai 104 for 2 in 25 overs (A Nayar batting 32, Rohit Sharma batting 55; Pankaj Singh 2 for 40).


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