Haryana: Though the crowds in Lahli have not got to see a Sachin Tendulkar special yet, they have already witnessed two days of cracking cricket as control of the game swung wildly from one side to the other. Despite a series of shifts in momentum, the teams were fairly evenly placed after two days, setting the scene for a challenging Mumbai chase – including, fans will hope, a famous Tendulkar effort – on Tuesday.
Mumbai had clearly had the better of the first day, finishing only 34 behind Haryana and still had six wickets remaining, but their batting was clueless against the snaking deliveries from medium-pacer Joginder Sharma, who picked up his first five-for in nearly three years.
Joginder’s gentle medium-pacers wouldn’t be something most batsmen would worry about, but in the first hour on a green track, he was deadly, finishing with 5 for 16 in 11 overs. Ajinkya Rahane and Aditya Tare, two heavy run-scorers, were dismissed off successive deliveries in the fifth over of the day, and suddenly Mumbai were no longer the team on top. It took some hitting from the nightwatchman Dhawal Kulkarni for Mumbai to huff and puff to a two-run lead as Joginder had a series of batsmen nicking behind to the keeper or the slips.
Haryana opener Nitin Saini’s 25th birthday didn’t quite go to plan as he was caught behind off a rearing Zaheer Khan delivery for 9. There were no more early wickets for Mumbai, though, as Sunny Singh unleashed a series of crisp boundaries to make a 78-ball 63. Opener Rahul Dewan was less adventurous but stuck around, working his way to 44.
Even after those two were dismissed, there was no collapse as Haryana quietly stretched their advantage to reach 186 for 4. Offspinner Jayant Yadav, who didn’t get to bowl, was promoted to No. 5 and he was instrumental in them reaching that position, but the innings soon unravelled.
Zaheer was getting the old ball to reverse, moving it both ways, and left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar also posed plenty of problems. Ajay Jadeja, who came in at No .7, poked and prodded for 20 deliveries before edging a catch to second slip to get a duck. Wickets tumbled almost every over and Haryana were soon 206 for 9, and in danger of being bowled out before stumps. Harshal Patel hit consecutive sixes off Dabholkar and took the innings to the third day.
The lead is now 222, not out of Mumbai’s reach but not a straightforward one either. Their mighty batting line-up has a task on its hands.
Haryana 134 and 224 for 9 (Sunny 63, Dabholkar 4-54, Zaheer 4-59) lead Mumbai 136 (Rahane 51, Joginder 5-16) by 222 runs.