Mumbai v Tamil Nadu, 2nd semi-final, Ranji Trophy, 3rd day January 12, 2012

Vijay ton puts Tamil Nadu in sight of final berth


Tamil Nadu 359 & 220 for 4 (Vijay 103*, Prasanna 1*, Waingankar 2-43) lead Mumbai 157 (Yadav 52, Balaji 4-28, Mahesh 3-63) by 422 runs

Tamil Nadu have virtually booked their ticket for the final against defending champions Rajasthan, after consigning Mumbai to a wretched first innings with the bat at the Wankhede Stadium. Having removed more than half of the Mumbai batting on the second afternoon, the Tamil Nadu bowlers returned today to shut out the hosts in about an hour. Murali Vijay then scored his first century of the season to help the visitors move to a nearly unassailable lead with only a day remaining.

In the end, Mumbai were left staring at their first defeat in knockouts at home since 2006 when Praveen Kumar helped Uttar Pradesh, the eventual champions, inflict a five-wicket win in the semi-finals at the same ground. Their feeble batting was the only reason Mumbai lost that match. Six years on, that weakness was exposed once again.

Mumbai started the day 238 runs adrift of TN's first-innings total but with only four wickets in hand. Hiken Shah, the only specialist batsman left, was in early trouble he failed to read an incoming delivery from Yo Mahesh, who was bowling from round the stumps. The next ball was a straighter delivery wide of off stump, and Shah went fishing to edge behind in the fourth over of the day.

Ramesh Powar did not offer much resistance, beaten by L Balaji's inswinger that sent his middle and leg stumps flying. The tail subsided quickly as TN finished with a 202-run lead. Embarrassingly for Mumbai, they didn't have even one partnership worth 50.

With five-and-a-half sessions remaining, the visitors chose to bat on instead of enforcing the follow-on. They started confidently with both Vijay and Abhinav Mukund accelerating straightaway. Both had their own goals: Mukund, who had never got a Ranji ton against Mumbai, cut, drove and punched the new ball to march into the forties by lunch.

But immediately upon resumption of play, he lost his stumps after being beaten by Kshemal Waingankar's inward movement from round the stumps. Badrinath started with the same composure he displayed on the first day, but perished when he misread left-arm spinner Ankit Chavan. Badrinath played for the spin, but Chavan's straighter delivery sneaked through the narrow lane between bat and pad to bowl him.

In the very next over, Dinesh Karthik paid the price for playing his shots too early. Facing only his fourth delivery, from Balwinder Sandhu, Karthik tried playing on the up but the ball arrived slower than he anticipated, and moved in to castle him. Sandhu had got the better of Karthik for the second time in the match.

Two quick wickets for just five runs injected aggro into the Mumbai bowling attack. As far as Badrinath and Karthik were concerned, the duo had wasted a good opportunity to log some batting time ahead of the final and also impress the national selectors, Mohinder Amarnath, Narendra Hirwani and Surendra Bhave, who were watching.

The one person who did not disappoint was Vijay. Going into the semis, Vijay's highest was 83, against Madhya Pradesh in the group match. He had two other fifties, but was struggling to convert his starts. Even in the first innings he chased and edged an away-going delivery from Kulkarni.

Despite top-edging one over the wicketkeeper early in his innings, Vijay improvised quickly to race into the twenties with four fours, all against Kulkarni. Using his wrists, Vijay clipped runs off his legs towards midwicket, and was equally in command when he stood tall and cut the ball past point.

Soon after lunch he charged Ramesh Powar to hit a powerful six over long-on. With Chavan failing to attack the wicket consistently, Vijay grew confident as he moved close to the century. It was only then that he grew tentative. After getting his first 32 runs in just 40 deliveries, he consumed nearly 70 deliveries to move from 81 to 99.

He got lucky on 97 when Wasim Jaffer at slip failed to react to a hard-handed cut. Jaffer was not crouching enough and instead stood tall and casually tried reaching for the ball, which only deflected off his ankle, allowing Vijay to pick two more runs.

Vijay finally conquered all doubts and anxiety when Chavan, bowling wide of the crease from around the stumps, sent in a flighted delivery. Vijay swiftly jumped out of his crease and hit his second six, this time towards the Pavilion end, and celebrated the ton.

Incidentally, the last time these teams played in Mumbai, Vijay had scored an unbeaten 154, which, too, had come in the second innings. Even back then Mumbai had been bundled out quickly by Tamil Nadu. That was a group match, and Mumbai recovered well to dominate the rest of the season and win the title. This time there would be no second chance.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • satish619chandar on January 13, 2012, 11:29 GMT

    @Suresh123456: Its bad luck that they missed Rohit and Rahane.. But still, i wouldnt state it as conspiracy mate.. Lets be sportive..

  • SHAKIB_IS_CLASS on January 13, 2012, 10:26 GMT

    Following Ranji is more interesting than Ind- Aus match. Mukund deserves a place in Team India.

  • rkannancrown on January 13, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    It was disappointing to see TN not try to win outright. They could have enforced follow on. Then they could have declared soon after Vijay's century. They are clearly the favourites for the final but a little more aggression was expected from Balaji & Co.

  • A.Ak on January 13, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    TN vs MUM is always like Ind vs Aus. Only team standing between winning a major and losing in knockout. Well done TN. Vijay, Badri, Mukund all are in form. Hope they shine in IPL too. They deserve a place in the national team, they are very consistent over the past 3 ranji sessions and Mukund and Badri were always amongst the top runner getters.

  • dummy4fb on January 13, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    wow tamils are winning back, these the ranji trophy is for tamil nadu, hope in ipl a tamil leads the chennai super kings rather than dhoni and and to see lots of tamils in tests & odis

  • dummy4fb on January 13, 2012, 7:20 GMT

    This is a truly clinical performance by TN. For obvious reasons, media always portrayed Mumbai to have an edge over TN even though TN had been consistent this Ranji season, well answered by TN through their excellent display of all- round skills. Bravo TN !!

  • venbas on January 13, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    On the last day with the lead already in excess of 500 runs and a place in the final assured courtesy the stupid first innings lead rule, Tamilnadu is just piling on the runs even post lunch. Why cant TN go for a absolute win the moment they have a lead in excess of 400 which is ungettable in a single day in Test cricket? Who is going to quell this type of negative playing in the elite tournaments and make things more meaninful and result oriented? If this is the kind of mindset of top teams in elite tournaments in India, then I doubt if we will have any result different from the thrashing we are getting abroad.

  • raj_che on January 13, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    Awesome performance from TN !!! atlast they have gone past mumbai. Mumbai have been their main reason of not winning the ranji trophy. Good that this time they are into the finals. Superb performance by Balaji and others with the ball. To bundle out a team for 150 odd runs is simply superb!!! Great going guys!!! bring the cup !! its ben long due for this consistent performer of a team!!!

  • Suresh123456 on January 13, 2012, 5:19 GMT

    This is the conspiracy of Srikant.. Send Rahane and Rohit Sharma to Aus .. so that TN can beat Mumbai... The poor chaps still waiting for their turn in Aus... which i doubt they will get :(

  • joseyesu on January 13, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    WHY there is no mention of prasanna?

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