Ranji Trophy: Deshpande, Thakur shine as Mumbai take opening day honours |

NEW DELHI: In a dominant performance, Tushar Deshpande (3/24) and Shardul Thakur (2/48) shone, placing Mumbai in a commanding position after a lackluster display from Tamil Nadu on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy semifinal in Mumbai on Saturday.
Tamil Nadu captain B Sai Kishore’s decision to bat first backfired, leading to the visitors being bundled out for a mere 146 in the first innings.Deshpande and Thakur posed significant challenges for the batsmen at the BKC Ground.
Although Tamil Nadu managed to strike twice with the ball, Mumbai mitigated a substantial portion of the first-innings deficit, reaching 45/2 at stumps, trailing by 101 runs.
Musheer Khan (24 not out) and nightwatchman Mohit Avasthi (1) were at the crease, with Mumbai losing openers Prithvi Shaw (5) and Bhupen Lalwani (15).
Shaw suffered an early dismissal to Kuldeep Sen, and Sai Kishore accounted for Lalwani’s wicket, securing the second breakthrough for Tamil Nadu. Despite these setbacks, Mumbai maintained their dominance in the match.
On a track which had movement off the surface as well as turn for spinners, Mumbai proved to be the superior side as their bowlers extracted more support and their batters did not find getting runs as tough as the visitors.
Tamil Nadu, shellshocked by a disastrous start to their first semifinal in seven years, could not muster the courage to stage a fightback and folded shortly after tea despite Vijay Shankar (44) and Washington Sundar’s (43) rearguard act.
The horror began when B Sai Sudharsan (0) was trapped leg-before on the fourth ball of the match by Thakur.
It did not take long for the Mumbai bowlers to get all over the Tamil Nadu side in the first hour.
Mumbai bowlers exploited the early moisture with the new ball to perfection as Avasthi had TN’s leading run-maker N Jagadeesan (4) caught at short leg by Musheer.
Coming in as first change, Deshpande remained unplayable for the Tamil Nadu batters throughout the innings.
“We wanted to bowl as the wicket has enough for the pace bowlers. We bowled in the right channels, on this pitch it was important to bowl in the right areas,” Deshpande told the media after the day’s play.
“Yes, absolutely,” said Deshpande if TN’s decision to bat was surprising.
“We all can see the pitch has enough help for the pace bowlers and with the shadow staying till late here it helps the pace bowlers a lot in the first session,” he added.
Pradosh Ranjan Paul’s (8) bat curled in his hands as he hit one straight to Despande, who took a fine return catch for the third wicket.
It was a brave call for skipper Sai Kishore (1) to promote himself ahead of the dependable Baba Indrajith, but one that did not work.
Sai Kishore’s footwork was all over the place when Deshpande moved the ball back in, pegging back the middle-stump as Tamil Nadu slumped to 17/4.
Tamil Nadu’s hopes of a revival took a body blow when Indrajith (11) was caught at short midwicket with Tanush Kotian (2/10) taking a sharp diving catch in front of him to leave the visitors reeling.
Shankar and Sundar fought well on either side of the lunch break but the pitch did not relent in giving support to the Mumbai bowlers.
Shankar, who began well with a flurry of fours, was tested consistently outside the off-stump by Deshpande, who kept moving the ball away from the right-hander and maintained threatening line and lengths.
Deshpande’s hard work resulted in a breakthrough for Thakur, who had Shankar caught at the second slip by Shams Mulani for a 109-ball 44 which featured eight fours.
Having shown a little interest in getting runs, Shankar’s departure forced Sundar to get a move on.
While he was mostly resolute in defence, Sundar also had luck favouring him twice. An outside edge off Shardul had Shreyas Iyer spilling a tough chance on 11 in the slip cordon and when he reached 37, Musheer spilled a catch at cover.
Mohammed Mohammed smacked three fours in a row off Thakur towards the end to make it 22 runs from one over, which gave a big push to the visitor’s total.
With his side on the backfoot, Shankar said Tamil Nadu will have to make a game out of it.
“Our strength is the two spinners who (have) got 40 plus wickets if we had batted tomorrow, things would have been different, they could have come into play on the fifth day,” Vijay said.
“The game is (still) wide open, they are just 45/2 and still need another 100 runs (or so), anything can happen from here.”
“One innings will not define any individual, tomorrow (Day Two) we (will) have to fight it out for the team and if we can get a good total (in second innings) on the board, things might be totally different,” he said.
Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 146 in 64.1 overs (Vijay Shankar 44, Washington Sundar 43; Shardul Thakur 2/48, Tushar Deshpande 3/24, Tanush Kotian 2/10) lead Mumbai 45/2 in 17 overs (Musheer Khan 24*; Kuldeep Sen 1/25, SaiK Kishore 1/3) by 101 runs.
(With inputs from PTI)

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