Irani Trophy diary - Day 1

Sidelight from the Mumbai vs Rest of India game



Trainspotting


Before I get down to the nuts and bolts, let me begin by painting a worrisome picture of what awaits: a first trip on the (in)famous Mumbai local, all the way from Churchgate to Borivali, an unforgettable end to end ordeal - or so I am told. Advice is freely forthcoming: Throw your kerchief on a seat; don't take the train that goes to Virar because you'll never be able to disembark; keep your wallet safe; don't make eye-contact with anybody; and so on and so forth. I am tremulous with perverse anticipation even before I have begun the walk to the station. I mean come on. This is a transit that is survived by millions on a daily basis. How bad can it be? Then again, I am not quite touched, yet, by Mumbai's brand of badassery; will that be held (bad choice of word on a crowded rail) against me? You'll know tomorrow.

Delhi belly

Back to the cricket. Sachin Tendulkar aside, Rest of India captain Virender Sehwag is arguably the biggest attraction at this Irani Trophy. The dashing opener's exclusion on the first morning ensures that the crowds stay away. A distressed stomach is the reason cited for Sehwag ruling himself out of what is likely to be his only match practice ahead of the Australia Tests. With Gautam Gambhir not in great form either, India - if indeed they choose the experienced duo to open against the Aussies - will have two men not at the top of their game facing up to a battery of young tearaways. There are rumblings that while Sehwag is expected to be a first choice for at least the Chennai Test, Gambhir may be shelved in favour of Ajinkya Rahane or M Vijay, whose attacking hundred on the opening day will have boosted his chances of making the eleven at his homeground Chepauk.

Lucky VijayMurali Vijay (File Photo)

Still on Vijay. The Tamil Nadu batsman has had a poor Ranji season, averaging about 17 in eight innings, not once crossing 50.  Punjab opener Jiwanjot Singh certainly had a stronger claim to making the Rest side. Playing his debut season, Jiwanjot was the highest accumulator in the domestic competition, during which he amassed five centuries. Nothing that Vijay did early in his innings on Wednesday vindicated this show of faith in him. The Chennai batsman fished outside off, played and missed and was even dismissed off a no-ball later in his knock. But Vijay battled on, turning from sufferer to aggressor to compile his 11th first class hundred. A decent innings by Ajinkya Rahane will really have Sehwag and Gambhir quivering over their immediate future.

Hopeless huddle

After sending them in, Mumbai's desperation to dislodge Rest's openers is understandable. Their methods are not. Success proves elusive and at the first drinks break, the great Sachin Tendulkar is observed initiating a huddle, standing at its centre as ten pairs of attentive eyes and ears follow his every move. Mumbai's seamers - with the exception of Dhawal Kulkarni - are guilty of bowling too wide and not making the batsmen play enough on a pitch that has something in it in the first hour of play. It's not known precisely what the maestro has to say to his teammates. It is known, however, that all the lecturing scarcely affects the radar of the home bowlers, and the first wicket -when it arrives - takes a rank poor shot off an equally sorry
delivery.

Wide ways

Shardul Thakur stays true to his template. He begins with a series of full-length balls and full-tosses, breaking the chain only to dish out wide half-trackers. Thakur concedes 25 runs and five boundaries in his first two overs, as Vijay and the left-handed Shikhar Dhawan wade into him. But it is Thakur's stock ball - an unpardonable wide - that gets Mumbai the breakthrough. A few overs after lunch, Dhawan chops an offering way outside off on to the stumps. The 21-year-old Thakur can also claim to have had the measure of Vijay. The batsman slashes him hard to the wicket-keeper. Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, Thakur has overstepped by a mile, and Vijay lives to see another day, perhaps play another Test match too.

Breakthrough man

Abhishek Nayar has been Mumbai's go-to bowler all year past. Each time the team has required a wicket, the all-rounder has obliged. On Wednesday too, as Mumbai's decision to field first appears to have backfired, Nayar gets rid of a struggling Manoj Tiwary, albeit through a dubious umpiring decision. Tiwary moves far across to a full length delivery, is struck in line with off, and scampers off for a leg-bye. It's only once Tiwary is safely home at the non-striker's end that the umpire raises the fatal finger. Tiwary takes another few minutes to remove himself from the field, and indicates the ball may have grazed his glove before contacting the pads. Nayar, however, is not finished. Early in the last session, he forces a inswinger through the well-set Vijay's defence and then hounds new man Suresh Raina relentlessly for a couple of overs. Close to a million dollars in the IPL auction does give one loads of confidence.

Also from the Irani Trophy:

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

The Nawab of Najafgarh says a good run in IPL could help his chances of a comeback on India's tour to England in June. More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

Five things England must do to bounce back

Five things England must do to bounce back

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of the Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusia… More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

Moores gets second stint as coach

Moores gets second stint as coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »