Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar defiantly held up one end of Mumbai's innings with an unbeaten 140 but lacked support from his team-mates as the current Ranji Trophy champions were bowled out for 409, giving Rest of India (ROI) what could prove a decisive lead of 117. That was extended to 144 by stumps despite the early wicket of Shikhar Dhawan for 0, thus boosting ROI's hopes of claiming the Irani Cup.
From an overnight 155 for 2, Mumbai lost their nightwatchman Shardul Thakur without scoring, which brought Tendulkar to the middle. With Ajinkya Rahane he put on 73 before a double-strike jolted the innings; Rahane was incorrectly given out lbw for 83 when replays showed he had gloved the ball and shortly afterwards Rohit Sharma slogged to midwicket for a 12-ball duck. Both wickets went to ROI captain Harbhajan Singh, seeking a place in India's Test squad to face Australia.
Matters turned for the worse when Mumbai skipper Abhishek Nayar edged Abhimanyu Mithun behind for 1, but Tendulkar found dour resistance from Ankeet Chavan (49) with whom he stitched together a stand of 103 for the seventh wicket. Tendulkar was a treat to watch and littered the ground with an array of shots; his driving was particularly noteworthy.
Tendulkar was left stranded on 140 as Mumbai collapsed for a second time, giving ROI a lead of 144 by stumps on day three.
Tendulkar reached his 81st first-class century with a single to leg off Sreesanth and moments later drove the same bowler down the ground for four to cross the landmark of 25,000 first-class runs. His two sixes off Harbhajan and Pragyan Ojha were effortless shots and found plenty of cheer from healthy crowd at the Wankhede Stadium.
However, a second collapse of three wickets for ten runs saw Mumbai dismissed for 409 in 114.1 overs. Harbhajan finished with 3 for 64 from 21 overs. ROI's second innings started with Dhawan being brilliantly held at short midwicket by Nayar in the first over, but first-innings centurion Murali Vijay (18*) and Sreesanth (7*) took the total to 27 for 1 by stumps.