Zaheer Khan's superb spell of fast bowling pegged Mumbai back on the opening day of the Irani Trophy match against Rest of India at the M A Chidambaran stadium in Chennai, on Thursday.
At close of play, the Ranji Trophy champions, after being put in to bat, were 272 for 9.
It was only because of a patient 94 from Sachin Tendulkar that Mumbai were able to post a rather healthy total, after struggling at 98 for 5 at lunch. The master batsman's efforts were undermined by a shoddy performance from his team mates, with the exception of Sairaj Bahutule and Wasim Jaffer.
Tendulkar displayed caution against Anil Kumble, but was aggressive against Harbhajan Singh, sending the wily off-spinner to the fence on three occasions. A push to mid-wicket fetched the Mumbai captain his 79th half century in first class games. He added 149 runs with all-rounder Bahutule (58) for the sixth wicket as Mumbai made steady progress after a disastrous first session.
Mumbai played through the entire post-lunch session without losing a wicket and it looked like the Rest of India bowlers would wilt in the heat and humidity of Chennai. But the tale had a twist. The batting maestro, rather cautious soon after tea, fell as he attempted to get to a hundred quickly.
After slamming Khan for two fours in the over, Tendulkar looked for a third but only managed to edge an easy chance to Rahul Dravid, who replaced a dehydrated Parthiv Patel behind the stumps.
Taking a cue from Khan, Anil Kumble got into the act and struck two quick blows to remove Bahutule and Ramesh Powar in quick succession and reduce Mumbai to 260 for the loss of eight wickets.
Khan struck once more to remove Vinayak Samant (4) and claim his fifth wicket of the day. The India and Baroda speedster finished the day with figures of 20-5-74-5.
Earlier, Mumbai frittered away the advantage gained after openers Jaffer and Vinayak Mane added 42 for the first wicket. Mane played aggressively, hitting five fours in his 26-run knock off 39 deliveries. A cover drive, played on the up, off Khan, being the pick of the boundaries. In his first four overs, Khan conceded 23 runs.
The quick start forced Ganguly to effect changes. Sanjay Bangar was brought in to replace Khan and the ploy worked almost immediately. After hitting Zaheer out of the attack, Mane seemed to relax and the next moment he was heading back to the pavilion.
Trying to cut a Bangar delivery for four, he failed to keep the ball down and hit it straight to Kumble at gully.
Jaffer, at the other end, was looking solid. He was picking the right ball to hit. Nishit Shetty came in at the fall of Mane's wicket and never really got going as Bangar and skipper Sourav Ganguly, sticking to the basics of line and length, slowed the scoring rate.
The heat and humidity in Chennai clearly affected some of the players in the morning session. Wicketkeeper Patel was off the field for 3.5 overs due to dehydration while Khan looked totally out of sorts in his first spell.
It was another bowling change from Ganguly that brought about the fall of left-hander Shetty. Zaheer produced a well-disguised slower ball and completely fooled Shetty into scooping it straight to Sehwag. Mumbai were reduced to 59 for the loss of two wickets. From this point on, Zaheer was a changed bowler.
Tendulkar was in next and his arrival was greeted by a huge roar from the crowd. With Jaffer for company, things proceeded smoothly. But Tendulkar's arrival and the wicket of Shetty seemed to spur Khan to new heights. And even though Mumbai looked in control, it was clear that batting would not be a dream on this pitch. The fall of Jaffer's wicket changed all that. A beauty from Lakshmipati Balaji clean bowled the opener, the ball pitching just outside the off-stump and then coming in to hit the top of the off-stump.
Vinod Kambli and Ajit Agarkar were quickly sent back to the pavilion, courtesy Khan.
Ganguly opted to play Balaji instead of Amit Bhandari and Kumble instead of Murali Karthik. Rohan Gavaskar was the 12th man.
For Mumbai, Nilesh Kulkarni will be the 12th man while Swapnil Hazare and Vinit Tendulkar will sit out.
Rest of India: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Virender Sehwag, Sanjay Bangar, Rahul Dravid, V V S Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Parthiv Patel, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, L Balaji, Rohan Gavaskar (12th Man).
Scoreboard at lunch:
Mumbai (first innings):V Mane c Kumble b Bangar 26
W Jaffer b Balaji 43
N Shetty c Shewag b Zaheer 5
S Tendulkar c Dravid b Zaheer 94
V Kambli lbw Zaheer 2
A Agarkar c Patel b Zaheer 0
S Bahutule c VVS Laxman b Kumble 58
R Morris not out 9
R Pawar b Kumble 0
V Sawant lbw Zaheer 4
A Salve not out 0
Extras: (b:15, lb:3, nb:13) 31
Total: (for 9 wkts, 90 overs) 272
Fall of wickets: 1-32, 2-59, 3-91, 4-98, 5-98, 6-247, 7-260, 8-260, 9-265.
Bowling: Zaheer 20-5-74-5, Balaji 19-6-44-1, Bangar 10-2-35-1, Ganguly 9-5-11-0, Kumble 20-6-46-2, Harbhajan 12-2-44-0.
Umpires: Jasbir Singh and Vijay Chopra.
Third umpire: S V Ramani.
Match referee: B Raghunath.