The Englishmen would have had more than a passing interest in the Ranji scoresheets. Alastair Cook & Co sure have been making mental scrapbooks of India’s Test regulars who have been in the thick of Ranji battle. One over from Day Three should top their entries.
Zaheer Khan walked off the field after bowling five deliveries in his fourth spell against Railways at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. He stopped on his follow-through, had a short word with his teammates, before heading to the dressing room.
Skipper Ajit Agarkar allayed fears, confirming that Zaheer was just cramping badly. “He’d a long day and it was very humid. He should be on the field tomorrow (Monday) morning,” Agarkar said.
The injury, coming as it did a day before the Test selection for the England series, is cause for worry though, considering Zaheer’s past record. He has had a history of inopportune breakdowns, the most recent being the 2011 Lord’s Test where he pulled a hamstring.
Zaheer had shown no signs of discomfort in the first two sessions, getting through his overs rather smoothly. There were two moments in the day, however, that suggested all was not well with India’s pace spearhead. Early in the morning, he appeared to be at a slight discomfort with his groin. Post tea, he didn’t take the field for five overs.
In all, he bowled three spells (20.5-5-41-1) without quite looking incisive. In fact, he’d to wait for 19 overs (and the new ball) for his first wicket when Mahesh Rawat edged an innocuous away-going delivery.
“Look, there’s a Test match at the back of his mind,” Agarkar said. “You want to get yourself ready and bowl as many overs as you can. I’m sure he’d have liked to get a few more wickets. But 20 overs is a fair workout. And it wasn’t that he was just turning his arm over. Over the course of the Test series, the conditions are going to get better, weather-wise.”
Railways, meanwhile, closed at 380 for eight, with Nitin Bhille, Sanjay Bangar and Mahesh Rawat notching up battling half-centuries. Courtesy their lower-order contributions, the visitors need just 41 more to make Mumbai bat. Mumbai aren’t accustomed to being kept on the field for nearly 120 overs by less formidable teams.
Like on the second day, Bangar and Bhille, who shared a century stand, targeted Powar, with the Railways skipper clobbering the offie at every conceivable opportunity. Agarkar felt a “tough wicket” and the initial “rust” at the start of the season didn’t help Mumbai.
The Mumbai skipper tried to reason his side’s rather flat outing, “If you don’t get early wickets, it becomes harder later on. We could have bowled better. We have got experience and quality in the attack. Sometimes things just don’t go your way.”
Mumbai 1st innings: 570
Railways 1st innings (O/N: 86/2): N Bhille c Pawar b Agarkar 73, S Bangar c I Abdulla b Nayar 67, P Madkaikar c Pawar b Powar 11, M Rawat c Tare b Khan 68, A Yadav c Tendulkar b I Abdulla 47, M Kartik c Tendulkar b I Abdulla 41, K Upadhyay batting 19, A Singh batting 15
Extras: (B4, LB5, NB3) 12
Total: (8 wickets; 118 overs) 380
FoW: 3-141, 4-166, 5-200, 6-263, 7-340, 8-348
Bowling: Z Khan 20.5-5-41-1, D Kulkarni 21-8-33-0, A Agarkar 14-3-43-3 (NB1), R Powar 27-4-129-1 (NB2), I Abdulla 19-3-67-2, A Nayar 14.1-1-55-1, R Sharma 2-1-3-0