He might have had to miss out on being part of a dramatic Test win in Mohali, but Rohit Sharma had made up for it, in some ways, with a breezy unbeaten ton on Saturday. The 28-year-old had also finished the day with a promise, to spend as much time as possible at the crease on Sunday. And with the prospect of seeing the stylish Rohit in action for free at Wankhede meant a number of Mumbaikars chose to forego their Diwali preparations and travel southwards.
But by the time a majority of the crowd had steadily made their way along the periphery of the stadium towards the Sunil Gavaskar Stand, the man they all wanted to see was gone, that too without adding a single run to his 113. The few, who did arrive early enough to witness the seventh ball of the day, saw the right-hander play a stroke that has become a worrying trademark, especially in the longer format-a wild waft at an Ankit Rajpoot delivery wide outside his off-stump that only resulted in him edging to Suresh Raina at second-slip.
But Uttar Pradesh’s relief at getting rid of Rohit early was short-lived, as young Siddhesh Lad took over from his more celebrated teammate as Mumbai did what they do best, pummel their opposition into submission with the bat. With Lad scoring a stroke-filled 89, the home team declared their innings at 610/9. To their credit, UP began their response solidly, finishing Day Two on 51/0 with two days of batting ahead of them. Sharma’s overnight partner worked immediately to stabilise his team’s innings. Teaming up with Abhishek Nayar, the pair defended effectively against the UP bowling attack.
The plan seemed straight forward – Nayar was to play defensively while Lad was to take the initiative of scoring. The 23-year-old created and presented a mixture of well-timed cover drives, glances down the leg side and patient defensive play. The home-town boy also took the liberty of smartly pacing down the track to clear the ropes with a powerful straight-drive.
Nayar supported his younger teammate well, chipping in with four boundaries and numerous opportunities for his partner to take the strike. The left-hander would fall though after a 204-ball 90-run partnership after messing up an attempted sweep shot and being given out leg-before. Yet Lad played on, coolly tackling the UP bowlers despite running out of partners on the other end at the same time.
Lad too was eventually beaten when he edged to Raina at slip. Clearly disappointed, the crowd cheered as he walked back to the pavilion, encouraging him to raise his bat to salute the applause. While Lad was the architect, Shardul Thakur added some muscle with a power-packed 62-ball 56. His dismissal was the cue for Mumbai skipper Aditya Tare to declare.
BRIEF SCORES: Mumbai 610/9 decl. (Shreyas Iyer 137, Rohit Sharma 113, Siddhesh Lad 89) vs Uttar Pradesh 51/0 (Tanmay Srivastava 30 n.o.)
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