Sharma, Nayar steady Mumbai innings after Bhuvaneshwar strikes

January 12th, 2009 - 9:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Jan 12 (IANS) Bhuvaneshwar Kumar rocked the Mumbai top-order but a gritty unbeaten century from Rohit Sharma steadied the innings against Uttar Pradesh on the first day of the Ranji Trophy final at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal, here Monday.At the close of play, Mumbai were 297 for six in the first innings with Sharma batting on 113 and Ajit Agarkar on 21.

After Uttar Pradesh captain Mohammed Kaif elected to bowl first, Bhuvaneshwar stole the thunder from the star-studded Mumbai team in the morning session and reduced them to 4/55 but Sharma and Abhishek Nayar (99) played sensibly to bail out Mumbai from the precarious situation with their 207-run stand for the fifth wicket.

Bhuvaneshwar provided Uttar Pradesh the first breakthrough, by trapping both Wasim Jaffer (1) and Vinayak Samant (26) leg before wicket. He gave Uttar Pradesh the much needed boost by dismissing Sachin Tendulkar to his first first-class duck in Indian domestic cricket.

After Mumbai had been reduced to 55 for four, Sharma started nervously and looked like getting out almost in each over and should thank Uttar Pradesh captain Mohammad Kaif, who dropped him twice.

Sharma and Nayar rode on their luck to stop the Uttar Pradesh bowlers, who were on a rampage. While Sharma played and missed Nayar was his usual combative self but curbed his natural aggressive instinct to steady the innings.

Sharma struggled against short-pitch bowling and survived two clear chances at slip and one direct-hit run-out opportunity. He was on 16 when he slashed hard at Praveen Kumar, and Kaif couldn’t hold on to a tough chance at first slip. The second catch, in the afternoon session came off Rudra Pratap and Kaif missed a sitter.

After reaching their fifties, both the batsmen stepped up the accelerator. With just six runs away from his century, Sharma looked nervous and took 25 deliveries to get to his fourth first-class century.

Bhuvaneshwar then struck with the new ball in consecutive deliveries to remove Nayar and Sairaj Bahutule but Agarkar survived the hat-trick to ensure there was no further damage.

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