Mumbai overcome minor scare to take three points
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Rituraj Singh held his crown in his palms, Hrishikesh Kanitkar stared deadpan at the lawn below and Ashok Menaria slow jogged to retrieve the ball from the confines of the white shamiana, a food stall erected just beyond the square boundary. At that point, most in the Rajasthan camp would have wished that the ball had never been found.
However, Kshemal Waingankar, Mumbai's nightwatchman, was pleased as punch. Yet another boundary off his blade the morning had not only taken the fast bowler to his highest first-class score of 25, it had also all but squashed the hopes of Rajasthan salvaging more than a point from this home fixture.
With that impressive cut off Rituraj for the eighth boundary of the day, Mumbai had crossed the 400 mark. And with six wickets in hand — including that of overnight centurion Hiken Shah — the formality of eating away into the remaining 70 odd runs to fully digest Rajasthan's first innings total was just that, a formality. Until, well, the hiccups began.
Next over, still only half way through the first session, Waingankar was bowled by Aniket Choudhary. Fair enough you would think, the lad pulled more weight than was expected of him. But when Shah and new man Suryakumar Yadav fell to highlight five barren overs — three of which were maidens — Mumbai must have sincerely wished that there was another Waingankar in their side.
Something alien and out of the ordinary occurred at the KL Saini Stadium on Monday. For the first time in three and a half days, the bowlers stepped out of the willow's shadow. Once left-arm seamer Choudhary picked up his second wicket of the day when Shah nicked him to first slip and left-arm spinner Gajendra Singh trapped Yadav lbw, Mumbai had gone from 3/402 to 6/420. The batters, for once, had to work for their runs. And there were 59 of them left to get.