Mah v TN, Ranji semi-finals, Kolkata, 5th day March 1, 2015

Tamil Nadu enter final on innings lead

ESPNcricinfo staff

Tamil Nadu 549 (Karthik 113, Shankar 91, Prasanna 72, Indrajith 69, Rangarajan 67*) and 110 for 0 dec (Mukund 66*, Aparajith 51*) drew with Maharashtra 454 (Gugale 154, Khurana 125, Bawne 57, Crist 4-89)

'I don't think anyone in our team believed we would make it to the final, to be honest' - Abhinav Mukund, Tamil Nadu captain © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Tamil Nadu bowled out Maharashtra for 454 to secure the first-innings honours, and book their spot in the Ranji Trophy final against Karnataka on March 8.

Maharashtra, having resumed on 394 for 5, handled 24 overs before they succumbed. Vijay Shankar provided early excitement when he removed both overnight batsmen in his first over of the day. Rohit Motwani was caught behind for 11 and two balls later, Ankit Bawne was on his way back for 57.

Shrikant Mundhe and Anupam Sanklecha got together in a 35-run partnership for the eighth wicket, before Maharashtra lost wickets in clumps again. Aswin Crist dismissed Sanklecha and Domnic Joseph in the space of two deliveries to finish with 4 for 89. And the innings came to a close two overs later when Samad Fallah was run out. Mundhe remained unbeaten on 25.

Both captains identified Vijay Shankar's double-break as the turning point in the race for the first-innings lead. "Those two wickets shocked the dressing room. Ankit and me were the last recognised batsmen, so that partnership was crucial," Motwani told ESPNcricinfo. "If we had added 100 runs, the scenario would have been different. Because the first session lasts two-and-a-half hours, we could have scored 60 runs by just batting it out without losing a wicket. It [550] was an achievable target, but we should have come out of [the] pressure [situation], and applied ourselves better."

Motwani, however, sounded pleased with his team's "exciting cricket" this season. "Last year when we played the final, we had come from Group C. But this time we played the top teams, and made it to the semis. Even this game, I don't think we played badly; we had our moments."

Tamil Nadu captain Abhinav Mukund was understandably delighted with his men. "I don't think anyone in our team believed we would make it to the final, to be honest. We were quite low on confidence," Mukund said of TN's slow start in the competition.

"We persisted with two slips, and created the only chance in the cordon to get Bawne out. Vijay Shankar was very good yesterday, but a couple of decisions didn't go our way. I brought him on very early today, and he surprised Motwani with a really quick bouncer. We gave away very few runs in the morning, and the scoreboard pressure was always going to be there."

Tami Nadu's wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik was fined 40% of his match fee for excessive appealing on the penultimate day.