Defending champions Mumbai edged out Tamil Nadu by two wickets in a low-scoring thriller as the opening round Ranji Trophy encounter between the two heavyweights ended in less than two and half days.
While BCCI has decided on having neutral venues so that home advantage is wiped out, the character of the track at the Bansi Lal Stadium remained as it has been for over the seasons as there was only single batsman in Abhinav Mukund (56) getting a 50 plus score in the match.
After being dismissed for 87 in the first innings, Tamil Nadu did shade better in the second essay scoring 185, which left Mumbai with a target of 97.
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They were reeling at 60 for seven at one stage when veteran Abhishek Nayar, whose oodles of experience at this level came in handy, struck a quickfire 45 off 56 balls.
Nayar’s knock had five fours and two sixes as he negated the threat created by seamers Aswin Crist (4/43) and Krishnamoorthy Vignesh (4/29), who had put the Ranji champions on the mat.
Nayar added an invaluable 30 runs with Balvinder Singh Sandhu (Jr) for the eighth wicket to take the team total to 90 before he was sent back by Crist.
But Nayar kept his cool in tense situation to hit a lusty blow as the 41-time champions logged home full points from the encounter.
Tamil Nadu started the day at 153 for six — enjoying a lead of 64 runs but could add only 32 more runs as they lost the final four wickets in only 8.4 overs.
Dhawal Kulkarni, who would soon be donning the India ODI colours once again, polished off the tail finishing with 6 for 47 as he ended with match-haul of 10 for 88 on a pacer friendly wicket. It was his 14th five-for in first-class cricket.
The target of 97 would have been a cakewalk on any other wicket but Lahli, which is an open ground is a different proposition.
Mumbai lost their top five for only 35 runs in 17 overs but it was Nayar, who again bailed them out as he has done it innumerable times for the title favourites over the years.
Brief Scores: Tamil Nadu 87 and 185 (Abhinav Mukund 56, Dhawal Kulkarni 6/47) Mumbai 176 & (target 97) 97/8 (Abhishek Nayar 45 batting, A Aswin Crist 4/43, K Vignesh 4/29). Mumbai won by 2 wkts. Points: Mumbai 6; Tamil Nadu 0.
Captain Suresh Raina down with flu, UP forced to follow-on
Uttar Pradesh captain Suresh Raina, who made a comeback into the India ODI squad after more than a year, did not bat on Saturday as he was down with flu as his side was forced to follow-on in their Ranji Trophy match against Madhya Pradesh in Hyderabad.
Resuming the third and penultimate day at 131 for 5 in reply to MP’s first innings 465 all out, UP folded at 176 in 63.2 overs and Raina did not come out to bat and his side were told to follow on at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium at Uppal.
It is learnt that Raina has already flown back home to recover from his illness and he will not be there when UP resume tomorrow on the final day to get past the MP total and get one point.
Brief Scores: Madhya Pradesh: 465 Uttar Pradesh: 176 all out in 63.23 overs (Eklavya Dwivedi 37; Gaurav Yadav 4/44) & 118 for 2 (f/o) in 53 overs (Tanmay Srivastava 60 batting).
Merai, Juneja hit fifties in Gujarat’s strong reply
Riding on half centuries from Bhargav Merai (70) and Manpreet Juneja (66 batting), Gujarat made a strong reply to Baroda’s first innings 544/8 declared as their Ranji Trophy Group A match headed for a draw on the third and penultimate day in Jaipur.
Gujarat made a slow progress, adding 243 runs from the 90 overs bowled today, but Merai and Juneja made sure that they were still in the fight for the first-innings lead at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
They were 277 for 4 at stumps, after resuming the day at 34 for no loss, still trailing by 267 runs with six first innings wickets in hand.