MUMBAI: Rest of India won the Irani Cup on first innings lead over Mumbai as a most listless encounter drew to a close at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.
There was no semblance of intent from either side as both went through the motions for the better part of the day, before the match was stopped at 3:15 p.m, but not before a few inconsequential overs of spin had been turned in to check the over rate.
Rest’s victory on first innings lead was inevitable on the fourth day itself. But the final day was not without its moments, what with the backdrop of a selection meeting going on concurrently.
The visitors resumed on 296/4 and declared on a lead of 506 an hour to lunch, soon after Ambati Rayudu had completed his 150. Rayudu’s overnight partner Suresh Raina made a blunt push towards another century in the match.
His effort, and his aspirations to the Test squad, was terminated prematurely after a spate of big hits. The left-hander from Ghaziabad was sidelined for the crucial No.6 position by Ravindra Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane despite being Man of the Man in the Irani Cup with scores of 134 and 71.
Rest skipper Harbhajan Singh’s declaration left S. Sreesanth and him a minimum of 48 overs to impress upon the selectors the essentiality of their inclusion.
They were half successful.
Harbhajan found himself in as the third Indian spinner, and celebrated by picking up two Mumbai wickets, finishing with five for the match.
There was no such luck for Sreesanth, on the comeback trail after a succession of toe surgeries. The Kerala seamer had bowled well in the first innings to an ominous Sachin Tendulkar. That was apparently not enough as he lost out to Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Ashok Dinda in the medium pace department for the first two home Tests against Australia.
JAFFER MISSES OUT
There was no luck either for Wasim Jaffer, who helped himself to yet another domestic hundred on Sunday afternoon. The 31-Test opener has been in raging form this season but was looked over for an India berth possibly on account of his age. Jaffer turns 35 next week.
The slight, however, did not keep him from compiling his 48th first class century, although that still didn’t allow him to jump over Shikhar Dhawan and M. Vijay as Virender Sehwag’s opening partner for the crucial series ahead.
Harbhajan brought himself on in the eighth over and claimed Aditya Tare and Ajinkya Rahane with turn and dip respectively, buoyed perhaps by news of his selection that would have trickled in by the tea break.
"It was a flat wicket, that's why we did not declare early. I am happy to take wickets in this crucial match and being selected for the Australia series," said the winning captain later.
All-rounder Abhishek Nayar, who captained Mumbai in the absence of the injured Ajit Agarkar, said his team was weakened by the absence of their major bowlers for this match.
"Most of our main bowlers weren't playing. Javed (Khan) and Shardul (Thakur) are young and they will learn with experience. It was a good season for us. We just had a bad game here. We can take a lot of positives from the season," he said.