New season, same story
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A minute or so after lunch and a fraction of a second before the ball left Dhawal Kulkarni's clasp, Vineet Saxena decided to pull away from the delivery. The leg stump tumbled, the fielders went up with a question and the umpire hesitated momentarily, before rendering the ball dead.
This episode was a break from the usual for several reasons. For the man straying past the sight-screen pulled off what eleven professional cricketers from Mumbai couldn't on all of Friday — break Saxena's focus for an instant.
Also, it was the only moment when Mumbai's collective vocal cords received any kind of exercise on Day One of this Group A game. For the rest day, Rohit Sharma and his Mumbai side were quiet as the fluttering thrushes on the outfield of Jaipur's KL Saini Stadium.
This silence, however, played the perfect backdrop for loud statements made with the crisp sounding willows of two centurions — Rajasthan's Saxena and his captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar, who slowly but surely carried Rajasthan's score to 256/2.
Separated by a few yards of batting paradise, the left-right pair occupied the pitch for a shade over six hours and a stand of 220 runs. Brought together at the fall of opener Ankit Lamba's wicket in the second over, Kanitkar and Saxena ground, sometimes even bored, Mumbai to submission for the next 73 overs.
The batting on show wasn't easy to digest for the fielders or the few fans sprinkled around the ground. But it put Rajasthan in a place they are getting rather used to: on top. And top of Mumbai. For from the second Rohit called the coin toss right and elected to field on a dry Saini wicket and bar a fleeting high with the first new ball, it was a forgetful day for Mumbai's first-time skipper.
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