Ranji Trophy: Mumbai in final for 46th time

Prithvi Shaw’s 120 enabled Mumbai to overhaul the target of 251 just before the rescheduled tea break and set up a grand finale against Gujarat.

R. V. Moorthy

Prithvi Shaw... century on first-class debut.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Teenager Prithvi Shaw entered the record books with an intrepid hundred on his first-class debut that helped Mumbai stroll into its 46th Ranji Trophy final with a six-wicket win over Tamil Nadu at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium on Thursday.

Shaw’s 120 — the 16th occasion and 13th in Ranji Trophy, of a Mumbai batsman marking his first-class debut with a hundred — enabled Mumbai to overhaul the target of 251 just before the rescheduled tea break and set up a grand finale against Gujarat.

When Shaw, all of 17, strode out in the middle along with left-handed Praful Waghela, almost double his age, the duo first had to see off the moisture in the wicket, thanks to a fog cover that delayed the start of the proceedings by 35 minutes.

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But the right-hander looked in his elements. Shaw caressed A. Aswin Crist off the backfoot in the second over of the day. Four over later, he drove the lanky Crist through the covers — off the front-foot this time around — twice in an over. With Waghela also scoring freely from the other end, Shaw continued to pile on the pressure on the Tamil Nadu bowlers.

He didn’t hesitate to play cross-batted strokes — flicks and sweeps — against R. Aushik Srinivas’s left-arm spin. Neither did he spare a moment to unsettle all the other TN bowlers as well. It reflected in his swing over long-on boundary in B. Aparajith’s first over of the morning.

Soon afterwards, a top-edged boundary off Vijay Shankar’s medium-pace fetched him his first fifty and he acknowledged the applause from the dressing room with a gentle raise of the bat. After losing Waghela, who top-edged a sweep off offie Aparajith, Shaw matched Shreyas Iyer shot for shot.

The duo’s quickfire partnership ensured that Mumbai would not suffer any middle-order hiccups. Soon after entering the 90s, Shaw slog-swept Srinivas for a four to move to 97. In the next over, however, Iyer played Shankar on to the stumps to see the off-stump uprooted.

In Shankar’s next over, Shaw — batting on 99 — steered Shankar past B. Indrajith at gully but instead offered a straight catch to the fielder. However, he got a second life as the umpires checked for a no-ball and replays showed Shankar didn’t have any part of his foot behind the line.

Four balls later, Shaw tapped the same bowler for a single to point and took his helmet off, with his boyish face gleaning with a wide smile. Shaw’s exuberance didn’t help him score the winning run. His top-edged swat off Srinivas ended with T. Natarajan taking an impressive catch running backward from mid-wicket, when Mumbai required just 10 runs to win. But Shaw had surely done his job by then.