R. Ashwin produced a fighting effort with the bat for Tamil Nadu (79, 206b, 5x4, 2x6) to deny Mumbai a shot at forcing an outright result but could not prevent the visitor from taking the first-innings lead on the final day of play in Chennai at the M.A.Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.
Ashwin added 105 runs for the eighth wicket with R. Sai Kishore (42) in a partnership that lasted 355 balls to help TN bat time and kept Mumbai at bay during the first session on the final day.
Though TN was eventually bowled out for 324 and was forced to follow on after conceding a 164-run lead, the time taken ensured Mumbai couldn’t press for an outright win and both teams agreed to call off the match at tea time.
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Ashwin and Sai Kishore, who batted for more than a session on the third day, continued to play with ease in the first session, tackling the spinners without much trouble even though there was some turn with the odd-ball keeping low.
The Mumbai attack did everything at its disposal with some disciplined bowling and innovative field setups, but the slow nature of wicket made the task of removing the tail difficult.
To make things worse, Mumbai was sloppy on the field dropping Ashwin thrice before he got to his half-century. Ashwin could have been dismissed for zero had Vinayak Bhoir held on to a catch at short cover on the third day.
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On Tuesday, Tushar Deshpande had a plan of attacking with short pitch stuff from around the wicket and Ashwin hit one straight to the well-placed leg-gully fielder only for Jay Bista to drop an easy chance when the batsman was on 32.
Shashank Attarde then dropped Ashwin on 42 at the short cover before he hit the next delivery for a six down long-on to add salt to the wounds en route to his fifty.
Despite an inexperienced side, Mumbai did well to pocket three points from the match after two consecutive defeats. TN, on the other hand, once again let the game slip away from its hands and in all probability is unlikely to qualify with just five points from as many matches.
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