With other contenders for the India No 6 spot, Suresh Raina ensured he does not go unnoticed when the selectors pick the squad for the Australia Test series on Sunday. Ajinkya Rahane too pushed his case with a gritty knock.
Raina capitalised on the start he managed on Day 1 of the Irani Cup to punish the wayward Mumbai bowlers en route his 11th first-class ton at the Wankhede on Thursday. Rest of India were finally dismissed for 526. In reply, Wasim Jaffer and Rahane were solidity personified as Mumbai finished Day 2 at 155 for two.
Fortunately for Raina (134), Abhimanyu Mithun (51) put a price to his wicket, and the duo put up a 153-run partnership for the seventh wicket. As the two settled down, the Mumbai bowlers got even more wayward. As a result, Raina spanked the ball all across the ground.
Late cuts between third slip and gully, off the pacers, was a shot he played regularly. But Raina took a special liking to the two left-arm spinners. He stepped down to Ankeet Chavan and Vishal Dabholkar regularly and carted them over long on for six. However, he fell playing this shot to Chavan, misjudging the flight.
Raina's walk back was not before he had surpassed the three-figure mark. The passionate leap and acknowledging the applause perhaps came with the belief that he had made a point with the selectors, who were watching the game.
Jaffer (80) and Rahane (55*) played out a relatively stronger Rest bowling attack with ease. While Ishwar Pandey sent Aditya Tare packing early, Jaffer and Rahane added 132 for the second wicket. Jaffer was his composed self, with nothing bothering him, not even the Rest bowlers. He started by guiding the ball through the slips for four before flicking Sreesanth to the deep midwicket boundary in the first over. Just when he looked set for a ton, he was caught behind off Sreesanth.
Rahane, who has been juggling between lack of playing time and a struggle for runs, decided to dig in. He left away-going deliveries, while did not miss an opportunity to score off the loose ones. He even played Harbhajan Singh against the spin. A cover drive off the offie, dissecting the field, was a sight to behold. As an unbeaten Rahane walked off at stumps, the Rest players ran up to shake his hand. He hadn't scored a ton yet, but this was an innings where he overcame pressure, giving himself an opportunity to score big runs on Friday.