Far from an exciting finish, which looked almost a certainty on Thursday evening, the Mumbai-Railways contest finished in a yawning draw. And, for a change, Railways weren’t responsible for the boredom; it could this time be blamed on Mumbai, the defending champions, who just didn’t make an attempt to force a result.
Chasing down 213 in 39 overs — the target Mumbai were left with after Railways finished their second innings on an impressive 309 just after the lunch — wasn’t going to be easy on this track.
Moreover, Mumbai skipper Wasim Jaffer, who hurt his finger while fielding, and Abhishek Nayyar were not fully fit. So, Mumbai had their reasons to play it safe, but one would have obviously expected a more positive approach from the champion team, especially when Ajinkya Rahane and Sahil Kukreja had given a decent start. With the visitors showing no intent and urgency, the game saw an early finish.
Railways would be proud of how they saved the almost lost match. At 174 for 7 with all their top batsmen back in the hut, the hosts had left themselves with little hope. But, as is often the case in sports, adversity stoked the fighting spirit, and the Railways batsmen showed commendable determination to script a great survival act. The rescue was largely shaped by all-rounder M. Suresh, who, besides hitting an invaluable unbeaten 89, shared two crucial partnerships for the eight and ninth wicket — 81 runs with Karan (34) and 83 with skipper Murali Kartik (44).
The two partnerships didn’t look just for survival, but also scored quite quickly, amassing more than 100 runs in the first session. And that’s what deterred Mumbai from going for an outright victory.
The superb effort of the trio looks all the more praiseworthy when seen against the backdrop of the collective failure of their top batsmen.