Tamil Nadu 261 for 6 (Indrajith 64, Gandhi 50, Vijay Shankar 41*, Nayar 2-56) v Mumbai
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Tamil Nadu received their first gift of the new year after a favourable outcome at the toss allowed them to have first strike on a friendly surface. Mumbai's seamers, though, stuffed a spring-loaded boxing glove inside the gift box trussed up in ribbons. By the time Tamil Nadu stuttered to 261 for 6 at the end of the first day, Abhishek Nayar, Shardul Thakur and Balwinder Sandhu had ensured Mumbai had made the happier start to 2017.
Until about five minutes before tea, Tamil Nadu were having a party, with Kaushik Gandhi and B Indrajith adding 110 for the third wicket. But after Indrajith was caught down the leg side off Thakur for 64, Tamil Nadu lost two more wickets in the next six overs. Vijay Shankar (41*) and Aswin Crist ensured there was no further damage with an unbroken 30-run stand late in the day, but with Mumbai having taken the new ball they will return to a stern examination on the second day.
Mumbai's new-ball pair of Thakur and Balwinder didn't receive much assistance from the pitch in the morning except for the odd delivery that stayed low. On the other hand, Tamil Nadu's left-hand opening batsmen, the debutant V Ganga Sridhar Raju and captain Abhinav Mukund, didn't begin altogether fluently either, but gradually got a grip on things. With the bowlers trying to tail the ball into the batsmen during the first hour, most of Tamil Nadu's runs came on the leg side.
While Thakur's brief short-ball gambit to Abhinav didn't fetch results, Abhishek Nayar's introduction in the 11th over immediately heightened Mumbai's threat. Nayar got the ball to curve away from the batsmen, and Sandhu followed suit and exerted pressure from the other end. In the 17th over, Raju played inside the line to Nayar and Aditya Tare held the resultant edge behind the wicket.
Nayar would have picked up his second wicket in his next over had Siddhesh Lad not dropped Gandhi at second slip on zero; it eventually cost Mumbai 50 runs. Nayar moved the ball away from the right-hand batsman, who was shaping to play the ball into the on side.
With about half an hour to go for lunch, Abhinav frittered away a good start after he pushed inside the line of the ball from deep in the crease off Sandhu to give Tare his 200th dismissal in first-class cricket. Given that the ball was not all that short, he might have been better off playing off the front foot to negate the late outward movement. Indrajith, who came into bat next, made an immediate adjustment by standing well outside the crease.
Indrajith and Gandhi steered Tamil Nadu to 96 for 2 at lunch, and either side of the break produced eye-catching drives. They handled the spinners, left-armer Vijay Gohil and offie Akshay Girap, with ease. Indrajith punched Gohil off the back foot for four and a few overs later Gandhi charged Girap and slapped a full-toss wide off mid on.
Mumbai went back to their seamers, who by this time were getting the ball to reverse. Thakur's late in-dipper - a delivery that has brought him quite a few wickets - wasn't immediately successful, but eventually broke through with a bit of luck, Indrajith's leg glance ending up in Tare's gloves.
Once they broke the 110-run stand, Mumbai seized the momentum. In the 66th over, Nayar sent back Gandhi, whose attempted flick ricocheted off his pad and lobbed to Praful Waghela diving forward from second slip. Less than three overs later, the Tamil Nadu camp appeared miffed after Dinesh Karthik was adjudged lbw by umpire Virender Sharma. Thakur's inswinger would have missed leg stump comfortably, and there might have been some bat on it as well. B Aparajith (9), who has managed only one fifty in 10 innings this season, gritted it out for 27 balls before Gohil had him caught at slip with a nicely tossed-up delivery that drifted in before dipping and turning away just enough to catch the outside edge.
Shankar showed barely any signs of circumspection upon his arrival. In the 79th over, he smeared a straight drive off Sandhu and topped it with a backfoot punch off the following delivery. Whenever the spinners bowled short, he produced powerful, wristy whips through midwicket, but towards the end of the day, when Nayar and Thakur tempted him with a string of deliveries outside off, he wisely left them alone. With Aswin Crist showing he is capable of defending solidly, Tamil Nadu could yet move to a healthy total.