Tamil Nadu claw back with late wickets

Rajkot
2 Jan 2017

If Mumbai were just ahead at the end of the opening day of the first semifinal against Tamil Nadu, for most parts of the second day it seemed they would slam the door open and drive home the advantage, at the Saurashtra Cricket Association ground in Rajkot on Monday (January 2). However, a late burst from the Tamil Nadu bowlers pegged them back as the defending champions ended the on 171 for 4 in reply to their 305.

Suryakumar Yadav stroked a pleasing 116-ball 73 while Praful Waghela made 48 to take their team forward before they lost three wickets for three runs an hour after Tea.

Mumbai endured a frustrating first hour but that was as good as Tamil Nadu's performance got in the day before the bowlers helped them claw their way back in the game. Vijay Shankar and Aswin Crist made a sedate start but ensured the Mumbai bowlers were kept at bay. However lapse in concentration led to their downfall. Soon after, Shankar got to his fifty. He tried to play a drive on the up to Shardul Thakur, to a delivery well wide outside off, and edged the ball to the wicketkeeper.

The scorecard then read 280 for 7. Aushik Srinivas (4) and Crist (31) followed soon after before K Vignesh became the last batsman to fall. Tamil Nadu restricted to a modest score on a good batting surface meant Mumbai had already gained the upper hand. Thakur and Abhishek Nayar picked shared eight wickets between them to prop up their side.

Basics don't change in cricket. No matter what the surface has to offer, early wickets play a key role. Prithvi Shaw made a promising start by stroking a lovely boundary but fell the very next ball, caught behind, playing a loose drive. Suryakumar was positive right from the onset and slammed a 14-ball 17 before Mumbai went to Tea at 34 for 1.

Both Suryakumar and Waghela looked at ease for most parts of the day and played well to swell their association to 121. There was a staunch grind from Waghela while Suryakumar played with a certain panache, the flair we are used to seeing in the Indian Premier League. He didn't hold back and was quick to pounce on wide deliveries and played the pull and the hook with authority to flay the bowlers. When Mumbai reached a healthy 125 for 1, it seemed as it Tamil Nadu will give in and wait for things to happen. One loose shot, one poor stroke can turn the game and that's what Suryakumar did.

He chased a wide from Shankar only to edge it behind the stumps. Waghela was the next one to go. Aditya Tare stroked the ball to the off side and took off for a non existent single, forcing Waghela to go for it. As a result, the left-hander fell short to make it and was run out leaving Mumbai well in the middle of a wobble.

'One brings two and two brings three' isn't just a cliche used by commentators. Siddesh Lad, the tenacious batsman who has time and again lifted Mumbai to a position of strength, then gently lobbed a full ball from Srinivas to hand a catch to Mukund. Mumbai from 125 for 1 had been reduced to 128 for 4. All the good work done by Suryakumar and Waghela had been undone.

Tare now had to shoulder the responsibility of guiding Mumbai through a tricky period with Shreyas Iyer. The duo did well to see off the 16-over period and add 43 to the total. They not only kept Mumbai afloat, they ensured that the scales were even after the second day.

Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 305 (Baba Indrajith 64, Vijay Shankar 50; Abhishek Nayar 4-66, Shardul Thakur 4-75) lead Mumbai 171/4 (Suryakumar Yadav 73, Praful Waghela 48; Shankar 1-14) by 134 runs.