Sachin Tendulkar roared back to form ahead of the upcoming Test series against England with a strokeful 137, while Ajinkya Rahane remained unbeaten on 105 as Mumbai amassed 344 for 4 against Railways on the opening day of their four-day Ranji Trophy match in Mumbai on Friday.
Tendulkar, in Mumbai colours after three years, came in at No 5 and batted fluently after starting cautiously against a largely inexperienced Railways attack to reach his hundred, which included 14 fours and three sixes, off 103 balls.
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The senior India batsman, whose last hundred in any form of the game was his unprecedented and much-feted 100th international century at Dhaka on March 16, struck 21 fours and three sixes during his 136-ball knock before edging medium pacer Anureet Singh to the slip cordon, three overs before stumps.
The 200-run partnership between Tendulkar, who batted for just over three hours, and one down Rahane placed Mumbai in command in their opening Group A fixture at the Wankhede stadium.
Rahane, who fully utilised the life given to him when on seven by Murali Kartik, faced 203 balls and struck 13 fours during his unconquered knock. Giving him company at close of play was Abhishek Nayar, who is yet to open his account.
The cynosure of all eyes on Day 1 of the match was clearly Tendulkar. The 39-year-old batsman's form in the last Test series against New Zealand at home was cause for concern as he was bowled thrice in as many innings.
But the script was totally different on Friday, albeit at a lower level of competition.
The three-figure innings was his 18th in the championship and his 79th in first class cricket and placed him within striking distance of overhauling Sunil Gavaskar's domestic record of 81 tons in games lasting three or more days.
Put in to bat, Mumbai got off to a decent start as openers Kaustubh Pawar and wicketkeeper Aditya Tare put on 45 runs before the former left in the 15th over, caught behind.
Rahane, coming into the game after scoring 54 for India 'A' in the second innings against England on Thursday at nearby Brabourne stadium, was lucky to be let off by Murali Kartik at second slip off left-arm medium pacer Hardik Rathod.
The right-hand batsman, in contention for a spot in India's squad for the first Test against England, to be picked on November 5, made Railways pay for the fielding lapse by scoring an unbeaten century.
He also put on a double century partnership with Tendulkar, who surprisingly came in at No 5 instead of his pet No 4 position.
Just before lunch, Tare was dismissed, bowled by Kartik, for 47, scored off 180 balls and included eight fours.
Tendulkar, who slammed Shivkant Shukla for a six, and Rahane steadied the boat and carried the home team to 214 for three at tea.
Tendulkar reached his half century after tea with a four off rival captain Sanjay Bangar in 69 balls. It contained seven fours and a six.
He then raced to his century off 34 more balls, the second fifty having seven fours and two sixes.
Railways took the new ball immediately after it was due and Rahane drove Rathod for a four and took a single to complete his century, studded with 12 fours, off 193 balls.
The new ball helped Railways break the stand when Anupreet sent back Tendulkar just before the close of play.
Anureet picked 2 for 53 while the other successful bowler, Kartik, claimed 1 for 55.
Mumbai (1st innings):
K Pawar c Rawat b Anureet Singh 24
A Tare b Kartik 47
A Rahane batting 105
R Sharma run out 18
S Tendulkar c Madkaikar b Anureet Singh 137
A Nayar batting 0
Extras: (lb 4, nb 7, w 2) 13
Total:(for 4 wkts in 90 overs) 344
Fall of wickets: 1-45, 2-100, 3-143, 4-343.
Bowling: Upadhyay 18-1-78-0, Rathod 21-1-64-0, Anureet Singh 17-4-53-2, Bangar 8-0-44-0, Kartik 20-2-55-1, Ashish Yadav 5-0-33-0, Shukla 1-0-13-0.