Ranji Trophy: Mumbai on top after day one

On a wicket that symbolises the flat-deck reputation of the Khanderi strip, Tamil Nadu could only muster 261 for six against a Mumbai attack that couldn’t ask many questions of the batsmen for a better part of the day.

Mumbai bowler Abhishek Nayar celebrate the wicket of Tamil Nadu batsman Kaushik Gandhi on the first day of the Ranji Trophy Semi-final match at the SCA Ground in Rajkot.   -  R.V. Moorthy

Tamil Nadu started off the New Year on an ideal note, but by the end of the opening day of its Ranji Trophy semi-final against Mumbai, Abhinav Mukund and his boys didn’t have much left to celebrate. A combination of rash strokes, disciplined bowling, and an error of judgment by the umpire, meant Mumbai had its nose ahead going into the second morning at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium.

>SCORECARD

On a wicket that symbolises the flat-deck reputation of the Khanderi strip, Tamil Nadu could only muster 261 for six against a Mumbai attack that couldn’t ask many questions of the batsmen for a better part of the day. However, the Tamil Nadu middle-order, not for the first time, saw a mini-collapse as four wickets fell for 53 runs, thus leaving them reeling at 231 for six. Vijay Shankar, the last of the recognised batsmen, then saw the day off with Aswin Crist playing the second foil.

>Read: I have given my 100%, says Shardul Thakur

B. Indrajith’s reckless shot selection prompted the collapse. Well past his fifty and mauling the Mumbai attack at will, Indrajith attempted a glance off one from Shardul Thakur that was pitched short and heading way down the leg stump and Aditya Tare dived to his left to latch to a brilliant catch. That pulled Mumbai back in the game as the wicket was earned in the last over before tea.

Soon after the break, Kaushik Gandhi, the other half-centurion who was stifled by Abhishek Nayar and Thakur after the break, got a thick inside edge to an incoming delivery from Nayar and the ball popped off the pads to Praful Waghela who came running in from a widish second slip.

The onus then naturally lay on Dinesh Karthik to rescue the team from a spot of bother in found itself in. The senior pro looked in good nick, as was displayed in his punch off Thakur that sped to the cover-point fence. However, umpire Virender Sharma adjudged him leg-before off a reverse-swinging quick ball from Thakur that was heading way down the leg-side.

Vijay Gohil then forced a nick off B. Aparajith’s willow to Suryakumar Yadav in the slips to stamp Mumbai’s authority on the game. However, the first two sessions belonged to Tamil Nadu, thanks to an entertaining 114-run partnership between Gandhi and Indrajith.

Despite losing both the openers – debutant Ganga Sridhar Raju and captain Abhinav Mukund – in the first session, the duo appeared to be in little trouble, putting the bad balls away. Indrajith, especially, was in a silken touch as he drove the Mumbai pacers and flicked the spinners at will. It was a pity for Tamil Nadu that neither of the set batsmen could convert his innings into an innings that could be taken note of by the national selectors, two of whom watched the proceedings from the gallery.