Powar leads Mumbai to convincing win
Mumbai 317 and 104 for 2 (Naik 57*) beat Tamil Nadu 206 and 214 (Ashwin 51, Powar 5-68, Salvi 3-27) by 8 wickets
It took all of three days for Mumbai, led by Ramesh Powar's second five-wicket haul in as many matches, to seal their first win of the Ranji Trophy this season by beating Tamil Nadu by eight wickets at the Gurunanak College Ground in Chennai.
After a steady fall of wickets in the morning, R Ashwin's fighting half-century and a composed 47 by K Vasudevadas kept Mumbai at bay, but the home side's inability to string together sufficient partnerships ultimately led to their undoing, leaving Mumbai just 104 to win with an entire session to score the runs.
Aavishkar Salvi and Ajit Agarkar, lent support to Powar and scuttled out Tamil Nadu for 214 by just sticking to the basics of line and length. Some alert fielding within the circle also contributed to the home side's downfall.
The slide began off the second ball of the day when Agarkar got one to swerve in with the angle and take Dinesh Karthik's middle stump. Agarkar charged in with intent, exerted himself and looked a different bowler from the first innings, firing in the occasional yorker.
With the luxury of time at hand to play themselves in, nightwatchman Vijay Kumar Yomahesh and captain S Badrinath put their heads down and strung together a stand of 45. Yomahesh was solid in defence and that allowed Badrinath to play with more freedom at the other end. He made his intentions clear with a big six off Powar, over the sight screen, and also took Salvi to task with an imperious hook, followed by a flick past midwicket.
However, Tamil Nadu's hard work was undone by Powar yet again as he plugged away with the wickets of Yomahesh and R Prasanna without the addition of a run. Yomahesh edged one on to his stumps, failing to cover the turn, while Prasanna padded up in front of the stumps. It was déjà vu for Badrinath as he edged one on to his stumps, identical to his first-innings dismissal, this time off Salvi, leaving half the side back in the pavilion with another 16 required to make Mumbai bat again. R Srinivasan was beaten for swing and had his off stumped shaved by Salvi, who looked in good rhythm, coming back after a back injury.
Ashwin and Vasudevadas then crafted Tamil Nadu's most impressive passage of play in the entire match. With the low bounce continuing to test the concentration of the batsmen, both made it a point to get behind the line and rotate the strike without getting bogged down. The positive vibes lifted the spirits of the Tamil Nadu camp, as Vasudevadas drove Agarkar past point, and swept Powar to the square-leg boundary As he gained in confidence, he used his feet to the left-arm spin of Iqbal Abdulla and fetched a straight six.
Ashwin, regarded as a promising allrounder, was at ease against pace and spin, getting to the pitch of the ball and getting the placement right on many occasions. The pair added 50 in 120 balls, wiped off the deficit and Ashwin brought up his own half-century with a flashy cut past point.
However, Vasudevadas' error in judgement, shouldering arms to one that came straight through from Salvi, broke the partnership and an excellent piece of fielding by the same bowler - effecting a direct hit from the region of square leg - sent Ashwin packing. Powar wrapped up the tail and Tamil Nadu's total of 214 was a disappointment.
Mumbai, led by Prashant Naik's scintillating unbeaten 57, raced to the target with little fuss. The spinners, Ashwin and R Ramkumar were in for a pounding as he launched Ashwin for three identical sixes over deep midwicket. He ended the match with a flourish, launching Ramkumar for three consecutive sixes, finishing on an unbeaten 57.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo