Shreyas Iyer (138, 124b, 11x4, 9x6) celebrated his call-up to India's T20 squad in style and Akhil Herwadkar (132, 244b, 14x4, 3x6) underlined his position as the No. 1 opener on the last day of Mumbai's Ranji Trophy Group C encounter against Tamil Nadu at the MCA Sharad Pawar Cricket Academy ground on Friday.
Iyer and Herwadkar's second-wicket partnership of 197 ensured Mumbai drew the match after conceding the first-innings lead . Despite facing the duo's wrath, the TN unit could afford to wear a smile at the end of the game, thanks to its crucial innings lead that kept its hopes of qualifying for the knock-outs alive.
Having barely wiped out the deficit on the penultimate day, it was imperative for Iyer and Herwadkar to avoid a collapse and ensure a draw. However, Iyer, having blasted a run-a-ball fifty on the third evening, didn't wait for long before unleashing his robust power on the TN bowlers. On a track that remained as flat as on the opening day, Iyer remained patient for the first 45 minutes before adding to his overnight tally of five sixes.
Once he switched gears, he didn't look back, despatching medium-pacers K. Vignesh, V. Yo Mahesh and Vijay Shankar to the boundaries and tormenting the spin duo of R. Ashwin and Rahil Shah at will. A six over wide long-on followed by a pull through mid-wicket off Vignesh helped Iyer cross his 11th first-class hundred.
So brutal was Iyer's assault that it forced even a spinner of the quality of Ashwin on the defensive. The off-spinner opted to bowl leg-break outside the leg-stump to keep the marauder quiet. However, Iyer had little trouble in disposing of anything that was in his arc and whenever Ashwin bowled off spin, Iyer was quick to rock back and cut it with elan. Ashwin did induce a mistake when the batsman was on 86 but B. Indrajith couldn't pouch the sharp chance.
Once Iyer was run out while trying to complete a second, Herwadkar took over and made up for his first-innings duck by scoring a sterling hundred. The stylish left-handed took a cue from Iyer and hit a long six off Shah over wide long-on to accompany classic off-drives. Had he not edged Shah to the 'keeper down the leg, Herwadkar could well have crossed 150 before the teams shook hands after the mandatory 75 overs in the day's play.
- Mumbai 374 & 371 for five decl. in 95 overs (Akhil Herwadkar 132, Shreyas Iyer 138, Siddhesh Lad 40) drew with Tamil Nadu 450. Tamil Nadu 3, Mumbai 1.
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