Mumbai v TN, 2nd semi-final, Ranji Trophy 2011-12, 1st day January 10, 2012

Prasanna, Mahesh revive faltering Tamil Nadu


Tamil Nadu 250 for 6 (Prasanna 81*, Mahesh 34*, Badrinath 56, Sandhu 4-80) v Mumbai

About an hour before close of play on the first day at the Wankhede, Ramesh Powar tossed one up on Ramaswamy Prasanna's off stump. The ball pitched on a length, bounced a little, and drifted away slightly before taking an edge off the shoulder of Prasanna's bat. It flew to the right of the first slip, but the fielder, Suryakumar Yadav, was for some reason standing a little wider when he should have been clearly fine, considering the pitch was not spinning much. An annoyed Powar skipped in the air, clapping his hands in disgust as he turned back.

Prasanna got an easy four and ended the day 19 short of what could be his second century for TN. More importantly, his painfully constructed unbroken 111-run stand for the seventh wicket with Yo Mahesh helped the visitors recover from the depths at 139 for 6 to a modest 250 for 6 at stumps.

The Wankhede pitch has never been generous to spinners on the first day. But Mumbai's slow bowlers faltered with their lack of patience and poor lines. Powar, who usually flights the ball generously, was too slow in the air and offered width. Ankit Chavan, the left-arm spinner, was happy bowling either on the legs or too full. Prasanna and Mahesh used that indiscipline to their advantage as they resolutely rebuilt the innings and played out most of the final two sessions.

This was in total contrast to the pre-lunch passage that Mumbai dominated, after TN had lost their own 'Fab Four'. In the third over of the morning, Abhinav Mukund went chasing an angled delivery from Dhawal Kulkarni that was going wide of the off stump. The moisture in the pitch made the ball grip the surface, but Mukund, the second-highest run-getter of the season, stayed too far back and played away from his body, only to chop it onto the stumps.

TN came close to losing a wicket off the very next ball, when Kulkarni nipped one into S Badrinath's pads, but the inside edge saved the batsman. Badrinath quickly got into the saddle and was severe on Balwinder Sandhu, whom he took for four off-side boundaries in an over. TN crossed 60 runs in the first hour and Sandhu was duly removed from the attack. His first spell read 6-0-38-0.

Both Kulkarni and Sandhu, who was playing his third first-class match, initially failed to capitalise on the moisture by bowling short on a pitch where the ideal length was full. In Mumbai's last match at the ground, Sandhu had bagged a five-for against Punjab in his debut innings by resorting to fuller lengths, and moving the ball both ways.

It was an ideal situation for TN to take total control. But for some reason Badri was stuck on 49 for 12 deliveries. Even though he dispatched a Chavan full toss over mid-on for four, the sudden lull in scoring had distracted TN's most experienced batsman. Sandhu, coming in from the pavilion for his third spell, seamed a ball away from a length. Badrinath needlessly reached out to tap the ball to point, and played on.

More trouble followed off the very next deilivery. Sandhu bowled full and swung the ball into Dinesh Karthik, who lunged forward to defend. The ball had hit him in line with the leg stump, and was clearly moving down the leg side. Yet, umpire K Hariharan upheld Sandhu's appeal. The entire TN dressing room raised their arms in disbelief and let out a collective cry of frustration on seeing the replay over the video analyst's laptop, which highlighted Hariharan's mistake.

Then M Vijay, who had been moving through the gears, was smartly deceived by Kulkarni, with a ball that pitched on a full length and moved out. Onkar Gurav moved swiftly to his right to finish the catch.

This was familiar territory for Prasanna. He steadily erased Mumbai's illusion of control over the rest of the afternoon. Against Bengal, TN were in a similar position at 140 for 5 with only K Vasudevadas and Prasanna, the last recognised pair, remaining. Prasanna had scored a steady 67, in a 160-run stand for the fifth wicket, which was instrumental in TN reaching 391 and setting up a ten-wicket win.

Mahesh, who had 270 runs including two fifties going into the semis, had also been a valuable lower-order contributor for TN, and his presence spurred Prasanna on. Against Delhi both men had stood strong to rebuild the TN innings from 88 for 5, with Abhinav retired hurt. Their 86-run stand for the sixth wicket had stabilised the visitors before Mukund returned to take over and help them take the first-innings lead.

Once again today, Prasanna and Mahesh played the fire-fighting role convincingly.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 11, 2012, 14:41 GMT

    Balaji always shines in crucial matches

  • Vivek on January 11, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    Hariharan was one the top 3 umpires in INdia after Venkat and Jayaprakash..Of course, wrong decisions are part of the game..and he is definitely better than most of whom we have now. and of course he is not from Kerala..he is from Delhi, but born in TN.

  • Senthil on January 11, 2012, 12:55 GMT

    TN having an upper hand over Mumbai in a knock-out after a long time tough the match is not over yet. TN were also at one stage 139/6 and recovered to 359. Last 4 seasons Mumbai lower order always scored well with the likes of Dhwal, R Power and I Abdulla. So from 121/6 it looks like climbing a mountain for Mumbai. So it's all defends on the first hour tomorrow morning. If TN manage to take 2 more wickets, then it's all tough for Mumbai and barring a batting collapse TN will go through to Final with First Innings lead. This match may yield a result but at present First Innings lead is the most important factor.

  • SWAMINATHAN on January 11, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    Umpire Hariharan is a Tamil from Hyderabad ....... guess that answers Bala's query ...

  • Shrikanth on January 11, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    Great work TN!!! Hope we get Mumbai get all out pre lunch. Bat, Have a lead of 450 and let them chase. Its time for revenge for TN. I hope TN wins the Ranji Trophy this time and players like Yomi,Balaji, Vijay,Mukund , DK and Badri gets to pay for the National side. Not to forget the contributions from Prasanna, Vasudevadas, Kaushik , Aushik Srinivas and Sunny Gupta.

  • Jishnu on January 11, 2012, 10:48 GMT

    Nice display of character by prasanna and mahesh. But i have a question to all of you out there. Why has badrinath not been given a chance in test cricket. He has one of best techniques in India and his gameplay is similar to rahul Dravid. Why is he being played only in T20s? Could India's chances in Australia been better if badrinath was in the middle order?

  • Senthil on January 11, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    Surprised with Mumbai top order failure. At Tea on Day 2 they are at 36/3. But still they have their best form Batsman of this season Suriyakumar and A Nayar to bail out them. Let see how this match progress. Seems to be interesting match if TN manage to get a wicket or two in the final session.

  • Senthil on January 11, 2012, 8:16 GMT

    Finally TN All out for 359. It's a great effort by Prasanna and Mahesh to drag that far from 139/6. But let see how the Mumbai batsman going to bat in this Pitch. I seen the Pitch, there are quite a bit grass tinges in the good length area not though in the full length area. The conditions will be tough for bowlers but still they can extract good bounce from it. Mumbai have solid batting line up and their only Aim is go to past TN score, nothing else as there is no possibility of a result in this match. Sandhu bowled well and got the well deserved 5 for. Well done.

  • Dummy4 on January 10, 2012, 20:09 GMT

    I wish we beat Mumbai, we have very good side with the so called 'FAB 4', good fighters in Prasanna, YO, Vasu and always been a fan of big charm/smile BALAJI I wish he would get the trophy home this time. Never as he been lucky in his career after a great start to his career had to suffer due to injury, may be this is Balaji's Trophy for what he couldnt acheive in International cricket a Ranji will satisfy him. Not to forget about Badri who deserves a Ranji too and with this Ranji, youngsters will be more stronger like YO, Prassana may take it to the next level.

  • Senthil on January 10, 2012, 17:05 GMT

    Though the 7th Wicket pair has added unbeaten 111 runs, Mumbai clear favorite to go through to Final. The pitch had some moisture in the morning but now it has eased out as this pair has played out 2 session is an example hence Mumbai will get the Flattest pitch when they come out to bat anytime tomorrow. I guess again tomorrow morning the pitch will have something for the bowlers and Mumbai will perhaps skittle out TN below 300 total and will went to bat for the rest of match if possible. However a great effort by "Prasanna and Mahesh". Well done to them. Mumbai is favourite after Day 1. Let see how the Day 2 going to be. Only the inexperienced TN bowling can save TN

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