Rest of India continued their domination in the Irani Cup, outdoing Ranji champions Mumbai on a superior first-innings score. The five-day game was crucial in the sense that the selectors were banking on the performances in this game as they looked to put together a team for the upcoming Australia series. Although all performances weren’t rewarded with a place in the squad for the Aussie challenge, there were some highly impressive performances from both sides, and some equally disappointing ones as well. Here’s a look back at how the big domestic clash panned out.
They grabbed their chances
Murali Vijay: The Tamil Nadu opener, who did not have a great domestic season made a serious impression in this game, his hundred on the opening day setting the tone for the match and going a long way in Rest of India grabbing the Cup. Vijay looked in no trouble at all during his stay at the crease in the first innings, which lasted over 270 minutes, and featured 17 fours plus a six. Vijay’s performance was rewarded with a place as a reserve opener for the first two Tests against Australia. Vijay has the talent, but better consistency will help his cause.
Suresh Raina: The left-hander’s match-winning effort may not have earned him a recall in the Test squad, but has kept him in contention for sure. If Ravindra Jadeja fails to perform in the Tests at number six, Raina might well get another chance at the spot in the remaining two Tests, with Yuvraj Singh continuing to remain out of favour. Raina did his chances no harm. His century in the opening innings was sublime, and his second-innings half-century was reaffirmation of his hunger to get back into the Test squad.
Wasim Jaffer: Like Raina, even the Mumbai opener failed to win back his Test spot for the Australia series, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. Carrying on with his amazing form, and putting behind the tragedy of having lost his father prior to the big match, Jaffer came up with two of his traditional anchoring knocks. His missed out on deserved hundred in the first innings, but ensured he got the same in his second dig. If Jaffer continues his good run, it will be difficult for the selectors to ignore him for long, irrespective of his age.
Other impressive performances: Ambati Rayudu (156*), Sachin Tendulkar (140), Ajinka Rahane (83) Harbhajan Singh (3 for 64 and 2 for 38).
They didn’t grabbed their chances
Dhawal Kulkarni: With India looking for a pace bowler to strengthen their attack, Kulkarni had a great opportunity to put his name in contention. In the absence of the injured warhorse Ajit Agarkar, however, he looked half as sharp. Kulkarni managed only three wickets in the entire game, and only one of them was of a top order batsman. He had a big responsibility on the opening day to get Mumbai the early breakthroughs, but failed to do so.
S. Sreesanth: The India discard had a great chance to make an impression, and while he did not do too badly, his performance wasn’t good enough to merit an Indian recall. The Kerala speedster did trouble Tendulkar on a few occasions, but had only one wicket to show for his efforts in the match.
Rohit Sharma: It was a case of yet another opportunity lost for the talented Mumbai batsman. Sharma played a forgettable shot in the first innings to get out for a duck. In the second innings as well, he didn’t show the resolve to fight with pride at stake for the Ranji champions.
--By A Cricket Analyst