Day Four of the Irani Cup tie between Mumbai and Rest of India at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai was one that ensured ennui.
The lackadaisical pace at which the progressed, with neither the RoI making virtually no effort to accelerate the scoring rate nor the home team pressing hard for wickets, clearly indicated that the teams wouldn’t mind if the match were to finish without a result.
The day’s second session was marginally better than the first -- 108 runs scored in 34 overs -- and the third matched that -- 96 runs in 26 overs -- but that’s not saying much.
At stumps, the visitors, having batted the whole day, had reached 296 for four (after 95 overs), for an overall lead of 413 runs. However, there was no declaration made, thereby nufflying the possibility of a result even further.
Ambati Rayudu was unbeaten on a well-made 118, with nine fours and four sixes, and giving him company was Suresh Raina on 40, the two having added 89 runs for the fifth wicket.
Resuming at their overnight score of 27 for one, the RoI innings progressed at a snail’s pace. The visitors scored only 65 runs (in 30 overs) in the morning session, losing two wickets in the process.
In the final analysis though the visitors had considerably consolidated their advantage besides ensuring they won’t lose the match. As the fifth and final day beckons it is up to the hosts to either take to the challenge, and thereby end a 15-year drought in the tournament, or be content playing out a draw.
Night-watchman S Sreesanth (18) was the first one to go, a Rohit Sharma direct hit ending his sojourn that included three hits to the fence.
Besides facing 56 balls during his at the crease Sreesanth also helped Murali Vijay put on 60 runs for the second wicket.
Vijay, the first innings centurion, hung around for a bit before giving a simple catch to Sharma at short cover, Shardul Thakur being the beneficiary. The opener made 35.
Rest of India had made 92 for three (after 35 overs) at lunch. There was no change in the visitor’s modus operandi after resumption either.
Ambati Rayudu and Manoj Tiwary were content hanging around. There were hints of aggression from the former, like when he stepped out to smash the ball over Ankeet Chavan’s head for a six, one that helped the visitors get past the 100-run mark.
Or when Tiwary stepped down again to smash the same bowler over extra cover for another six, this shot taking the RoI lead past 250. However, such instances were few and far between.
Rayudu’s second six of the innings, on this occasion over long-on off Vishal Dabholkar, took him closer to his half century. He duly completed the same with a single of the same bowler a couple of overs later.
It was the 27-year-old Baroda batsman’s 28th half century in first class cricket.
Tiwary also helped himself to a second six, smashing a Dabholkar delivery over long-off. A couple off the same bowler an over later helped raise the 100-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
The Bengal batsman reached his 14th first class fifty shortly after, driving Dabholkar to long-on for single.
As the teams moved back to the pavilion for tea, Rayudu was unbeaten on 67 and Tiwary on 66. The final session of the day brought the home team a much needed breakthrough, a Dabholkar delivery brushing past Tiwary’s forearm and Wasim Jaffer doing the rest.
The batsman gave the look of a victim, shocked that the umpire that given him out. However, replays suggested that the latter had got it right.
Tiwary’s 166-ball 69 was inclusive of five hits to the fence and three over it and he helped Rayudu put on 140 runs for the fourth wicket. Raina came out to join the latter and stepped out of his crease to slam the first ball he faced straight past the bowler (Dabholkar) for a four.
The left-hander continued his aggression on Dabholkar, a boundary followed by a six over long-on, in the bowler’s 18th over, helped raise the 50-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Meanwhile, Rayudu smashed Chavan over long-off for his third six before getting a boundary apiece of Chavan and Dabholkar to inch closer to his hundred.
The 27-year-old reached the landmark with a boundary off Shardul Thakur. It was Rayudu’s 14th first class hundred. Shortly before the day’s play ended, Raina (on 40) was dropped off Chavan by substitute Kaustubh Pawar at short leg, clearly underlying the fact that Mumbai had had a woeful day on the field.
Photograph: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images