Abhimanyu Mithun: Full points for effort.
MUMBAI: Suresh Raina plundered Mumbai’s attack for 134 quick runs, 98 of which came on Thursday. But all his brilliance would have come to naught had it not been for medium pacer Abhimanyu Mithun, who partnered the southpaw in a crucial 153-run stand for the seventh wicket.
Asked if his experience of shepherding the tail in the shorter formats had come to his aid in the Irani Cup match, Raina said, “I know how to bat with the lower order. There was good communication between us and I know that it’s always good to trust your partner.”
Raina's 11th First Class century could not have been more timely, as it comes just ahead of the Australia Test series with India's middle order bearing a decidedly unsettled look.
“I wanted to score heavily in this match to come back into Test match reckoning. I’m hitting the ball really well. I was unhappy to miss out on an ODI century against England recently, so I am glad to get a hundred today against Mumbai, who are a very strong domestic team.”
As he neared his hundred, Raina appeared to go into overdrive, carting sixes with disdain off the left-arm spinning dup of Vishal Dabholkar and Ankeet Chavan. But he said his real intention was to play out a lot of balls, since the scoring would take care of itself.
“I knew if I could bat for 180-odd balls I’ll have a score of around 150. Although I missed that today, I’m happy with my performace.”
Raina’s blitz took Rest of India to a comfortable 526, but he was was quick to caution that Mumbai were still very much in the game.
“They still have two brilliant batsmen (Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma) left. You can never take them lightly.”
At the other end of the epctrum, Chavan, who Raina tonked for 29 runs in 14 balls, was at pains to explain that the wicket had very little in it for the spinners.
“It wasn’t doing much. Maybe it will get slower as the match goes on.”
Chavan also said that Mumbai missed their injured skipper Ajit Agarkar and left-arm spearhead Zaheer Khan.
“It would have benefitted us greatly if the two were playing this game. But the other bowlers we have are good enough to do the job,” he added.
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