Millennium Post

Vijay ton propels RoI

Opener Murali Vijay stroked his way to his second successive century in the Irani Cup as Rest of India dominated the opening day of their five-day fixture against recently crowned Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday.

With good contributions from one-down batsman Manoj Tiwary (37), Ambati Rayudu (51) and Suresh Raina (36 not out), RoI ended day one at 330 for five. Vijay, who had notched a double ton for the RoI against last year's champions Rajasthan in Bangalore at the start of the season, compiled an aggressive 116 and also put on a quick-fire 144-run stand with opening partner Shikhar Dhawan (63) to lay a strong foundation.

RoI, without captain and opener Virender Sehwag who pulled out at the eleventh hour due to an upset stomach, dominated the day completely. The situation could have been even better for RoI had Mumbai's pace spearhead Dhawal Kulkarni not dismissed Wriddhiman Saha just before close with the second new ball for his first wicket.

At stumps, Raina, was on 36 after a near two-hour stay in which he faced 68 balls and hit four fours. Captain Harbhajan (0) was the other unbeaten batsman at the crease. Raina, along with Rayudu, also put on 78 runs for the fourth wicket in 122 balls.

For Mumbai, who opted to field after winning the toss, captain Abhishek Nayar was the most successful bowler with figures of two for 49, while the other three wickets were shared equally by Shardul Thakur, part time bowler Rohit Sharma and Kulkarni. Mumbai's new ball bowlers could not justify the faith when Nayar opted to field. Perhaps the decision to put the opposition in to bat was inspired by the hosts' successful ploy against Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy final played at this ground recently.

RoI openers Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan took advantage of the loose balls by striking a flurry of boundaries to help the team race to 100 mark in the 28th over after the former had compiled his 50 off 79 balls. The 28-year-old Vijay, who has a century to his credit in 12 Tests, played some fine cover drives and hit 17 fours and a six in his 206-ball innings, while Dhawan was merciless to the ball pitched short and struck 11 fours in his 101-ball essay.

However, both also had luck on their side. When on 40, the left handed Dhawan edged left arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar to the left of slip fielder Wasim Jaffer who was a bit late to react, while Vijay was bowled off a no-ball when on 79. Dhawan reached his 50 with a boundary in 85 balls. Nayar made quick bowling changes but the RoI openers made merry as they went to lunch at 130 without loss with Vijay on 67 and Dhawan on 58.

Mumbai grabbed two wickets in the second session and three more in the final to fight their way back.

Shardul Thakur drew first blood by breaking the opening stand when he saw off Dhawan. The opening wicket partnership lasted for 38.1 overs.
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