Sharma entertains, Shah accumulates

When Rohit Sharma is at the crease, everything else — the match and the fielders — seem to pass by with eye sore haste. Take the 99th over of the Mumbai innings as an apt illustration — incidentally the over in which Rajasthan decided to take the second new ball. Nineteen overs late.

Aniket Choudhary, broad and mighty, moved in like a freight train and hit the spot just back of length. Sharma, with flicker book ease, leant in on a drive, before seams and leather crunched fingers against wooden handle. Like the visible blades of a ceiling fan, he fluttered them in pain.

Next ball, same length. Spitting up towards his gloves in a hurry, Sharma was once again in the process of gliding on to his front foot. But only this time, Sharma had unearthed more time, casually sending it darting through the off-side. It pierced gully and point.

Ego bruised, Choudhary dug it in short. Very short. But on an impotent wicket such as KL Saini's, it climbed marginally above navel height. Sharma swayed under it like Neo dodges bullets in The Matrix, his eyes following the ball tickle past his collar bone. Impressed, the fast man from Rajasthan dug it in again. Only for Rohit to rollick around it stork-legged and crack it over the deep square leg fence.

Such was the day that while Sharma did what he does most elegantly, he controlled the pace of the match — slow, steady and breezy. Right from the time he walked in (a couple of balls before lunch) to the time he was dismissed (a couple of overs before stumps) it was a Sharma show — his space versus earth time.

But the moment he departed swinging uncharacteristically, the game, its current situation and the man he batted alongside with all day emerged into focus. Hiken Shah, largely unnoticed during his 175-run stand with Sharma, had remained unbeaten on 118 in Mumbai's quest to overhaul Rajasthan's first innings total of 478.

... contd.

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