Ranji Trophy: TN bags late Mumbai wickets

A three-over passage midway through the last session of Day Two, which fetched Tamil Nadu three wickets for just three runs, brought it back in the Ranji Trophy semifinal against defending champion Mumbai.

Tamil Nadu celebrates Mumbai's first wicket, on Day Two of the semifinal at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium.   -  r. v. moorthy

A three-over passage midway through the last session of Day Two, which fetched Tamil Nadu three wickets for just three runs, brought it back in the Ranji Trophy semifinal against defending champion Mumbai. Thanks to the mini-collapse, Mumbai’s march was restricted to 171 for four at the end of the day’s proceedings at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium, after winding up Tamil Nadu’s first innings for 305.

When Mumbai went into the tea break at 111 for one, it was in the driver’s seat. Shardul Thakur and Abhishek Nayar had shared the last four Tamil Nadu wickets for not too many in the morning. Opener Praful Waghela and Suryakumar Yadav, promoted to No. 3 in place of an ailing Shreyas Iyer after Prithvi Shaw’s first-class debut lasted just five balls, had looked solid for most of the 33 overs Mumbai had batted till then.

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Tamil Nadu surely had its backs to the wall. Vijay Shankar, introduced into the attack, and R. Aushik Srinivas then put brakes on the scoring rate, conceding just 14 runs in the next eight overs. Yadav, who was scoring at his aggressive best, got desperate and played a loose stroke off Shankar and Dinesh Karthik didn’t falter behind stumps.

In the next over, Waghela, two short of a deserving fifty, stuttered before responding to Tare’s call for a quick single and found himself short of the striker’s end despite lunging at the last moment. If the two established batsmen’s dismissals in successive overs wasn’t enough of a jolt for Mumbai, Siddhesh Lad lobbed one from left-arm spinner Srinivas straight to short mid-off even before opening his account.

Iyer, who had to be taken to a hospital before the start of play due to a bout of food poisoning, then avoided further damage in the company of his captain to help Mumbai end the day 135 runs adrift of the first objective of achieving the innings lead. Iyer even played a delightful straight drive in the closing minutes which reminded of Yadav’s onslaught earlier in the day.

Yadav, coming in at four for one after Shaw chased a wide one off Crist in the opening over of the innings, backed his instincts and played a compelling knock. He lofted Crist over mid-off, then straight drove the strike bowler in the same over. Soon after, it was the turn of left-arm pacer T. Natarajan to face Yadav’s brunt, with a cut and a straight drive. He even backed himself to clear the boundary at long-leg when Crist pitched it short.

Yadav also had his share of luck as he was dropped at first slip on 17 off Crist and then survived a close leg-before shout off the next ball. He did capitalise on it for the next two hours before throwing it away.