The overcast conditions, responsive wicket and a slight wind blowing across the ground the setting could have easily caused a fight amongst the fast bowlers to have the first go at the batsmen. One instead saw the stocky off spinner Ramesh Powar and lanky left arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni ambling in down the wicket for much of the rain-affected day.
That was more than an indicator of how effective the Mumbai seamers had been on this seam- friendly track. Punjab, however, didn't mind it and went on to score a challenging total of 353 from an overnight 220 for 6 amidst the fading light and intermittent rain that caused a loss of 38 overs during the day.
Mumbai, in reply, were 21 for no loss in eleven overs before bad light stopped play.
And the credit for taking Punjab to this position of strength goes to their skipper Pankaj Dharmani. The skipper played another typically defiant knock to bring up his 19th First Class century.
Mumbai had a good chance to clean up the Pun- jab tail with the wicket offering good movement in the morning. However the seamers again failed to put the ball in the right areas and Dharmani made the most of it. He looked quite positive right from the start and was quite prolific square off the wick- et. With the seamers throwing away the initiative, the Mumbai skipper was left with no option but to try his spinners.
That, however, didn't make too much of a difference for Dharmani. Apart from his determination, what stood out in his innings was his fierce concentration.
The match had to be stopped quite a few times in between, but Dharmani didn't let his focus waver and kept going on.
Eventually he fell for a superb 144 when he skied a Hazare delivery to Rohit Sharma at third man.
Punjab 1st innings Ricky c & b Hazare 46, Goel c Samant b Mota 38, Gup- ta c Samant b Kulkarni 8, Dharmani c Sharma b Haz- are 144, Mongia c Samant b Hazare 0, Kaul c Mota b Mungela 25, Uniyal c Samant b Mungela 2, Malhatra c & b Mota 36, Gagandeep c Kukreja b Hazare 24, R Sharma c Kulkarni b Hazare 7, Amanpreet not out 10; Extras (b-5, lb-3, nb-5) 13 Total (all out; in 122 ovs) 353. Fall of wkts: 1-83, 2-100, 3-100, 4-100, 5-186, 6- 192, 7-245, 8-314, 9-328. Bowling: Hazare 33-5-83-5, Mungela 23-5-59-2, Mota 21-3-78-2, Kulkarni 23-5-44-1, Powar 22-4-81- 0.
Mumbai 1st innings Kukreja batting 6, Mane batting 13; Extras (lb-1, nb- 1) 2. Total 21 Bowling: Gagandeep 3-0-3-0, Uniyal 4-0-10-0, Malha- tra 3-0-7-0, Amanpreet 1-1-0-0.