It’s been 10 months since Yusuf Pathan donned the India Blue. And if you did happen to watch him bat at the Wankhede on Tuesday, you sure wouldn’t want to see him play for the country again. Apologies, but that’s how reckless the Baroda skipper was. And thanks to his I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude, the visitors ended the day on a hopeless 167/5, a monumental 478 behind Mumbai. Ambati Rayudu (10*) and Pinal Shah (6*) will have to bat out of their skins to even avoid the follow-on — not that Ajit Agarkar is going to enforce it — in their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal tie.
Sample this: Mumbai declared their innings about half-an-hour before lunch at 645/9, equalling their highest score against the West Zone rivals. Ajit Agarkar (52 not out), Javed Khan (43) and their enterprising 73-run partnership for the ninth wicket is what propelled them in the first session. The home side added a priceless 121 runs in only 24 overs. The Baroda openers had a tricky 25 minutes to see off.
The visiting openers cleared the first test with ease.
They looked even more impressive after lunch. And for the third day running, the post-lunch session didn’t see a wicket. Saurabh Wakaskar and Aditya Waghmode added 77 runs in the 29 overs as the visitors took tea at 93/0. The pitch was the same — a lifeless runway; the bowlers looked tired, and Mumbai looked set for a fruitless two hours of play. Wakaskar cut debutant Vishal Dabholkar in murderous fashion to bring up his fifty and the team’s 100. Two balls later, the left-arm spinner had him caught at first slip.
Well, 102/1 became 109/2 when Abhimanyu Chauhan, with 566 runs this season, fell for a 20-ball duck after failing to negotiate an in-cutter from medium-pacer Dhaval Kulkarni. The prolific Waghmode, beneficiary of a missed stumping by Aditya Tare off Dabholkar, fell two overs later for 53 when he edged a chest-high delivery to the wicketkeeper.
In walked Pathan. With the scoreboard reading 120/3 — and just about an hour to go — you’d expect Pathan to bat sanely, right? But he did the opposite. It seemed he was hallucinating, wearing his KKR purple and not the Baroda flannels. He started off with a couple, before slashing and missing every other ball. Dabholkar even induced a leading edge, but the fielder at cover was a little too behind.
He then pulled one ferociously to collect a boundary, but never looked convincing. Just 6.3 overs after he and Kedar Devdhar added 30 runs, Dabholkar had the latter caught in front with a straighter one. Neither Devdhar’s departure could calm him. In the very next over, bowled by counterpart Agarkar, Pathan perished for an 18-ball 21. Agarkar came up with a smart short ball, and the maverick right-hander could only toe-end it to mid-on. What a waste of talent and ability!