Ranji Trophy 2023-24 semifinals: Shardul Thakur’s ton overshadows Sai Kishore’s brilliance, puts Mumbai in command on Day 2

On a day that was highlighted by the individual brilliance of both all-rounders, it was Thakur who overshadowed Sai Kishore and his Tamil Nadu teammates.

Published : Mar 03, 2024 19:30 IST , MUMBAI - 3 MINS READ

Thakur bailed Mumbai out of trouble with a fearless yet masterful knock.
Thakur bailed Mumbai out of trouble with a fearless yet masterful knock. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/THE HINDU
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Thakur bailed Mumbai out of trouble with a fearless yet masterful knock. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/THE HINDU

“I won the bet.”

Shardul Thakur told R. Sai Kishore while exchanging a high-five minutes after the end of the day’s play. While Sai Kishore reminded him that it was only for T20s, both had a hearty laugh over it.

The bet, one was later informed, was that Thakur will “smash him when I face him in a match.”

On a day that was highlighted by the individual brilliance of both the all-rounders, it was Thakur who – with the able support of Mumbai’s trustworthy lower-order – overshadowed Sai Kishore and his Tamil Nadu teammates.

ALSO READ | Tamil Nadu skipper Sai Kishore joins elite 50-wicket club

As a result, a topsy-turvy day at the Sharad Pawar Cricket Academy ground ended with Mumbai’s lower-order taking the game away from the opposition in no time.

Thakur’s (109, 105b, 13x4,) maiden First-Class hundred and his crucial partnerships with wicketkeeper Hardik Tamore (105 for the eighth wicket) and Tanush Kotian (79 for the ninth) helped Mumbai swing the pendulum after Sai Kishore (6/97) had them reeling at 106 for seven.

Kotian (74) and Tushar Deshpande’s unbroken association of 63 runs then rubbed salt into Tamil Nadu’s wounds as Mumbai ended the second day at 353 for nine, with a hefty advantage of 207 runs.

The star of the day was Thakur, who bailed Mumbai out of trouble with a fearless yet masterful knock. When he took guard, with just 13 minutes remaining for Lunch, Sai Kishore was on rampage, having picked four wickets in the morning to shatter another record, and Mumbai was at 106 for seven, in danger of conceding the lead.

ALSO READ | Mantri helps Madhya Pradesh wrest control against Vidarbha on Day 2

Thakur didn’t waste time in showing his intent, hitting him for two fours. Even after Lunch, he continued to go after the TN captain, whose marathon spell was a treat to watch.

While no other Mumbai batter was comfortable against him, Thakur fetched 44 runs off the 37 balls he faced by the lanky spinner.

Tamore also grew in confidence and started caressing the ball freely. Soon after Thakur hit S. Ajith Ram over the sight-screen to raise his fifty, Tamore top-edged a flick and was caught at short cover.

Thakur continued his onslaught as Kotian continued his excellent run with the willow. Thakur reached the landmark with a one-bounced four.

ALSO READ | India climbs to top spot in WTC standings after Australia beats New Zealand

His brilliance was over off the second delivery with the second new ball as N. Jagadeesan – who had effected a brilliant stumping in the morning – took a lunging catch to end the knock.

While the last two sessions belonged to Mumbai, Tamil Nadu dominated the morning session. Sai Kishore bowled unchanged from the club house end. Despite an overcast morning, he used the dampness to his advantage and broke the back of Mumbai’s middle-order.

Barring Shreyas Iyer – who played on to Sandeep Warrier early on in his innings – Sai Kishore earned all of Mumbai’s five wickets.

Nightwatcher Mohit Avasthi (missed a wild heave to be stumped) was stumped in the opening over. Captain Ajinkya Rahane’s wicket (caught at slip) got TN back in the game. The double strike in an over to remove a well-set Musheer Khan (drawn forward to be stumped) and Shams Mulani (bowled through the gate) gave TN a glimmer of hope.

BRIEF SCORES
Tamil Nadu 146 vs Mumbai 353/9 (Musheer Khan 55, Shardul Thakur 109, Tanush Kotian 74 n.o.; R. Sai Kishore 6/97).

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