Sachin Tendulkar warmed up for his farewell series against the West Indies next month with a gritty unbeaten half-century to keep Mumbai's chances alive in their Ranji Trophy match against a spirited Haryana here today.
Featuring in his last Ranji Trophy innings, Tendulkar played the lone-ranger as he remained not out on a patient 55 at stumps on the third day, with Mumbai, set a target of 240, needing another 39 runs to win with four wickets in hand.
The 40-time defending champions were 201 for six at close of day, with Dhawal Kulkarni giving Tendulkar company on six.
Resuming at 224 for nine, Haryana were all bowled out for 241 earlier in the day.
After that Tendulkar held centrestage by showing signs of regaining his form, much to the delight of the packed crowd who had been awaiting his arrival at the crease with bated breath.
The champion batsman, who will walk into sunset after playing his landmark 200th Test against the West Indies next month, decorated his innings with four hits to the fence while facing 122 balls.
One shot that brought back the days of yore was the cracker of a cover drive Tendulkar produced off pacer Ashish Hooda, attracting huge cheers from the packed crowd.
Chants of 'Sachin, Sachin' was heard almost all day long and he obliged his fans in this sleepy village by recording his 115th first-class fifty.
Tendulkar, who was dismissed for five in the first innings, got to his 50 when he flicked Joginder Sharma for two through the vacant square leg region, bringing the crowd to its feet.
The 40-year-old Tendulkar was concentration personified as he looked to bail Mumbai out of a difficult situation by bringing into play all his experience.
He was far from being his aggressive best, but on this tricky track at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Stadium, patience was the order of the day and Tendulkar showed that in abundance.