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Ranji semis: Thakur's blazing ton rescues Mumbai vs TN

Source: PTI
March 03, 2024 18:05 IST
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Shardul Thakur-led Mumbai's rearguard puts Tamil Nadu on mat in Ranji Trophy semifinal

Shardul Thakur

IMAGE: Mumbai’s Shardul Thakur celebrates his century. Photograph: Kind Courtesy BCCI Domestic/X

Shardul Thakur's sizzling 109 and Tanush Kotian's unbeaten 74 offset R Sai Kishore's six-wicket haul, putting Mumbai in command by powering to a 207-run first-innings lead over Tamil Nadu on the second day of the Ranji Trophy semifinal in Mumbai on Sunday.

Thakur's sensational counterattacking hundred, featuring 13 fours and four sixes from a mere 104 balls, pulled Mumbai out of doldrums after they were reduced to 106 for seven at one stage.


At stumps, Mumbai were 353 for 9 at stumps against TN's first innings' 146, with Sai Kishore causing the maximum damage.

Sai Kishore

Sai Kishore (6/97) ran through a chunk of Mumbai's batting line-up, while Shreyas Iyer (3) fell to pacer Sandeep Warrier as Tamil Nadu levelled up with the hosts for the first time in the game.

But Thakur launched a stunning onslaught, putting each of Tamil Nadu bowlers under severe pressure while forging vital partnerships along the way to take Mumbai far ahead in the game.

Thakur teamed up with Hardik Tamore (35) for a crucial 105-run stand for the eighth wicket and took Mumbai further ahead in the company of Kotian, adding another 79 runs for the ninth wicket.

Using his blade to perfection, Thakur was adroit with his hands to pierce gaps at will and did not miss out clearing the field with disdain four times for maximums — one of which also brought up his maiden century across formats.

Thakur, who also struggled with an ankle-related issue along the way, finally fell to Kuldeep Sen (2/65) in the third session, which brought the pair of Kotian and Tushar Deshpande together again after their heroics in the last match.

Coming off a 232-run stand for the 10th wicket in the previous match, Kotian and Deshpande picked from where they left off to put on another 63-run unbeaten stand for the 10th wicket.

With Deshpande (17 not out) joining him much later in his innings, Kotian excelled in this innings like a specialist batter, cracking 10 fours from 109 balls to get to 74 not out.

If it were not for yet another rearguard from their tailenders, who shone in the quarterfinal as well, Mumbai would not have ended the day's play with a massive lead, for most of their key batters cut a sorry figure.

On a cloudy morning with breeze sweeping across the field here at the BKC Ground, Sai Kishore's decision to open the bowling in conditions conducive to seamers raised a few eyebrows.

But the Tamil Nadu skipper and leading wicket-taker this Ranji Trophy only validated his move with relentless pressure on the Mumbai batters, delivering a superb 17-6-28-4 in the first session, and took a break only after sending down 22 overs at a stretch.

After nightwatchman Mohit Avasthi (2) was stumped, Sai Kishore ended his counterpart Ajinkya Rahane's 67-ball vigil for a mere 19 (2x4s) by getting him caught at the first slip.

Rahane strode out confidently to defend on the front foot but only to have the ball kissing the outside edge and being collected by Baba Indrajith at the first slip.

Mumbai's woes compounded when Iyer, pounded by lack of runs and loss of central contract, was cleaned by Tamil Nadu pacer Warrier for a mere three.

But Musheer (55 off 131 balls, 6x4s) continued to take giant strides, shouldering the responsibility of getting runs for his side from the other end. The 18-year-old also made no retorts when Tamil Nadu fielders, both in front and behind him, tried to unsettle him.

However, a lapse in concentration saw Musheer's innings ending prematurely when his backfoot was caught ‘on line' at the crease with N Jagadeesan quick in taking off the bails.

Brief scores:

Tamil Nadu 146 trail Mumbai 353/9 in 100 overs (Musheer Khan 55, Shardul Thakur 109, Tanush Kotian 74*; R Sai Kishore 6/97) by 207 runs.

Himanshu Mantri hundred gives MP edge over Vidarbha

Himanshu Mantri

IMAGE: Himanshu Mantri's 126 off 265 balls (13x4, 1x6) helped Madhya Pradesh to gain a small yet significant 82-run lead. Photograph: Kind Courtesy BCCI Domestic/X

Himanshu Mantri showed patience and technical aptitude while constructing a fine hundred to singlehandedly guide Madhya Pradesh to 252 in their first innings against Vidarbha on the second day of their Ranji Trophy semifinal in Nagpur.

Mantri's 126 off 265 balls (13x4, 1x6) helped Madhya Pradesh to gain a small yet significant 82-run lead after beginning the day at 47 for one.

In their second innings, Vidarbha reached 13 for the loss of Atharva Taide at stumps, trailing by 69 runs.

The importance of Mantri's knock, his third hundred of the season, can be gauged from the fact that the next highest score in MP innings was a 30 by Saransh Jain.

But in the morning session, Madhya Pradesh made a steady start through Mantri and Harsh Gawli as the second wicket pair stretched their alliance to 61 as Vidarbha reached 81 for one.

But pacer Yash Thakur (3/51) trapped Gawli (25, 77b) in front of the wicket to snap the stand and Vidarbha lost two more wickets while adding another 12 runs.

Veteran speedster Umesh Yadav (3/40) yorked hosts skipper Shubham Sharma (1) and Thakur won an appeal for leg-before against shuffling Venkatesh Iyer (0).

Vidarbha slipped to an uncomfortable 93 for four but Sagar Solanki (25) gave Mantri solid support as the fifth wicket duo milked 42 runs to steady the ship.

A mix-up with Mantri saw Solanki getting out but a more solid period followed.

Mantri found another willing partner in Jain as the duo added 73 runs for the sixth wicket, taking MP past Vidarbha's first innings total of 170.

The pitch was eased out a bit as compared to Day 1 but there was enough carry and bounce on the track to keep the bowlers interested.

As the day progressed, spinners too received a bit of turn as left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate and off-spinner Akshay Wakhare posed some questions.

But Mantri had enough skill sets with him to negate those threats – playing the spinners with the turn or standing just outside the crease against the pacers to smother the swing.

Soon, Mantri reached his century with a quick single off Wakhare, and celebrated the moment with a roar.

But just as they were going strong, Jain's hard-handed prod off Wakhare ended with Aman Mokhade at cover.

Mantri, who received a reprieve on 115, too did not last long as his attempt to sweep Wakhare fetched fatal results.

The ball ballooned off a top-edge and stumper Akshay Wadkar showed fine anticipation to complete the catch diving towards his right.

The Vidarbha innings also folded soon as the last three wickets fell for 21 runs.

Brief Scores:

Vidarbha: 170 and 13/1

Madhya Pradesh 1st innings: 252 all out in 94.3 overs (Himanshu Mantri 126, Saransh Jain 30; Umesh Yadav 3/40, Yash Thakur 3/51, Akshay Wakhare 2/68). 

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