Wicket-keeper batter Hardik Tamore hogged the limelight with a stroke-filled 115 to propel Mumbai to 393 in their first innings on the second day of their Ranji Trophy semifinal against Uttar Pradesh, in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
In reply, Uttar Pradesh were reeling at 25 for two at stumps, having lost opener Samarth Singh (0) and Priyam Garg (5) early.
While the first day belonged to young Mumbai opener Yashasvi Jaiswal, who had hammered his second first-class hundred, it was Tamore who hogged the limelight on Wednesday at the Just Academy ground.
Tamore, who was roped in as replacement for the injured Aditya Tare, reposed the faith of the team management, and along with all-rounder Shams Mulani (50) frustrated the UP attack after play commenced late due to wet outfield.
But the UP bowlers, particularly left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar (3/107) made a remarkable comeback as Mumbai lost their last four wickets for 47 runs.
Earlier, Tamore and Mulani took their time to settle down and only punished the loose deliveries.
Mulani, resuming at his overnight score of 10, played the perfect second fiddle to Tamore, who notched up his second first-class hundred.
Right-handed Tamore, who resumed on unbeaten 51, anchored the innings after the domestic giants began from their overnight score of 260 for five. He and Mulani forged a crucial 113-run stand for the sixth wicket before Karan Sharma bagged his third wicket to dismiss the latter.
Tamore, in his 233-ball knock, hammered as many as 12 boundaries and one maximum, while Mulani struck five boundaries in his 50-ball knock before being caught by Madhav Kaushik.
Once Mulani fell, Tamore was devoid of partners as Tanush Kotian (22), Dhawal Kulkarni (0), Tushar Deshpande (1) failed to provide him support.
Tamore was the last man to be dismissed after he fell to Kumar.
For UP, Karan Sharma (4/46) snared four wickets while Kumar grabbed three.
Sharma accounted for the wickets of Jaiswal, Sarfaraz Khan (40) and Deshpande (1).
Sharma and Kumar shared seven wickets between them as UP bowled out the 41-time Ranji champions on the third session of the day.
UP did not have a good start as the pace duo of Kulkarni and Deshpande picked up a wicket each.
Opener Madhav Kaushik (11 not out) and Sharma (10 not out) were holding fort for UP at stumps.
Tiwary and Ahmed keep Bengal afloat as MP hold upper-hand
Manoj Tiwary, veteran of many-a-fightback, in company of utility man Shahbaz Ahmed, kept Bengal alive as they reached 197 for five after a top-order collapse against Madhya Pradesh, in Alur, Jun, on the second day of the Ranji Trophy semi-final.
At stumps, Tiwary (84 batting, 182 balls) played his best knock of this season, while Shahbaz (72 batting, 149 balls) was equally defiant as they joined forces at a precarious 54 for five and added 143 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket.
This was after a 64-run seventh wicket stand between centurion Himanshu Mantri (165, 372 balls) and Puneet Datey (33) took Madhya Pradesh to a more than respectable first inning score of 341. Mukesh Kumar (4/66) was Bengal's best bowler by a distance.
While Bengal's entire hopes rest on Tiwary and Shahbaz but 144 runs on a third day wicket is still a tall climb and 14 overs are left before the new ball is taken.
On a track where Bengal left-arm spinners Shahbaz (3/86 in 20 overs) and his fellow spinner Pradipta Pramanik (1/50 in 14 overs) failed to trouble Mantri, who hit 19 fours and a six, MP coach Chandrakant Pandit's ploy of using Mumbai Indians spinner Kumar Kartikeya (25-9-43-2) first up with the new ball, just before lunch, proved to be a masterstroke.
Kartikeya removed opener Abhishek Raman (0) and last match's hero Sudip Gharami (0) in quick succession to set a panic attack among the rank and file in the Bengal set-up.
While Raman dragged one back to the stumps when there was no room for cut, Gharami went onto back-foot to a delivery that should have been ideally played on the front-foot.
Without going to the pitch of the delivery, Gharami allowed it to turn and it beat his bat while clipping the top of off-stump.
The move by Pandit at the stroke of lunch was more about trying to squeeze in as many overs as possible in a short 15-minute window as more overs before break does put batters under pressure.
The second reason was to disturb the mindset and footwork of the batters and the plan worked.
In the post lunch session, Anushtup Majumdar edged one to the slips while talented Abhishek Porel flicked one off Puneet Datey to find the fielder at square leg boundary. In between, skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran had jabbed at a Datey delivery on the off-stump channel to be caught behind.
At 54 for five, Shahbaz and Tiwary joined hands and both hit some crisp drives as they ended the day with nine boundaries each.
If Shahbaz's pull off Gaurav Yadav was his best shot, Tiwary's reverse sweep off Kartikeya and Saransh were treat for the eyes.
Brief Scores: MP 341 (Himanshu Mantri 165, Mukesh Kumar 4/66). Bengal 197/5 (Manoj Tiwary 84 batting, Shahbaz Ahmed 72 batting).