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Rohit triple in Mumbai run-riot

india Updated: Dec 16, 2009 22:25 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Abhijeet Kulkarni
Hindustan Times
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Just a run away from his maiden 300, Rohit Sharma stood almost a foot outside leg stump to counter the negative line of Salil Yadav to get the single. He got it soon.

Apart from the opening hour, when the Gujarat medium-pacers bowled with the second new ball, the visitors’ strategy was to bowl wide of leg stump, hoping that the batsmen would throw away their wickets in frustration.

The ploy worked as Mumbai lost three quick wickets before lunch. But then, Sharma showed that he could curb his attacking instinct and grind for runs when needed.

The 22-year-old not only achieved a personal landmark but also took Mumbai to a position from where they would look to book a place in the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals from Elite Group A.

The defending champions declared their innings 15 minutes before tea at 648 for 6 with Sharma and Vinayak Samant adding 150 runs in an unbroken seventh-wicket stand.

Gujarat were 120 for 1 on a track that offered very little to the quick bowlers. However, the odd ball did turn in the last hour and it would be interesting to see how Iqbal Abdulla and Ramesh Powar exploit the conditions.

The hero for the second day in succession was Sharma, who showed that he is maturing as a batsman. He had sent the Gujarat bowlers on a leather hunt on the opening day and was ruthless in the morning session as he raced to his double century in 185 balls, the fourth 50 coming in 31 deliveries with nine fours.

Sharma was severe on anything wide and that forced stand-in captain Niraj Patel to introduce spin from both ends with the bowlers being instructed to bowl to a packed leg-side field.

Niraj got the breakthrough when Sushant Marathe was caught by Rujul Bhat at mid-wicket, trying to break the shackles. When Ajit Agarkar and Ramesh Powar followed in quick succession, it looked as if Sharma would run out of partners.

But Samant’s arrival must have given Sharma some confidence as the wicketkeeper started rotating the strike. Even Sharma was content to play the ball in the gaps for singles and twos and hit just four boundaries between 200 and 250.