With half of the side back in the dressing room chasing Tamil Nadu's 359, Mumbai is staring at defeat. Their only hopes rest on Hiken Shah (batting on 21) and Ramesh Powar to take the first innings honours.
It was one of Mumbai's horrendous starts of the season after Tamil Nadu skipper Laxmipathy Balaji reduced the 39-time champions to three for 14 in the first innings of the Ranji Trophy semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday. Mumbai were 121 for six at the end of Day Two's play.
Tamil Nadu's L Balaji successfully appeals for the LBW decision of Wasim
Jaffer at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
Though it looks like Mumbai can kiss goodbye to hopes of winning the 40th Ranji title, former Mumbai skipper and stalwart Amol Muzumdar sounded too good to be true when he said it is too early to write them off.
"Mumbai has this knack of fighting back strongly. They have come out of this situation in the past as well. So, I am sure they will fight it out again this time. It is never easy to win against Mumbai," Muzumdar, who is on commentary duty here, told MiD DAY yesterday.
Balaji hardly gave away anything in his first spell, removing both Mumbai openers Kaustubh Pawar (1) and Onkar Gurav (2) cheaply. Wasim Jaffer (0) was unfortunate to be adjudged leg before by umpire Hariharan in spite of a huge inside edge onto the pads. The Mumbai skipper was left shell-shocked as the umpire raised the dreaded finger and started the long walk back shaking his head in disbelief.
Fit-again Abhishek Nayar and Suryakumar Yadav tried to steady the boat, playing cautiously and putting the odd balls to the boundary. The duo stitched 53 runs for the fourth wicket before Nayar departed playing a poor sweep shot that took the top edge of the bat to give a simple catch to K Vasudevadas (17) just behind the 'keeper.
Yadav provided some cheer to the Mumbai dressing room as he raced to his half century in no time. However, Mumbai's leading run-scorer couldn't avoid letting go a wide delivery by Yo Mahesh to give a simple catch to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik on 52.
Muzumdar, a veteran of 158 first-class matches and 2006-07 Mumbai Ranji Trophy-winning captain, was confident that the champion outfit would come out strongly. "I am sure there will be many thoughts going inside the dressing room at the moment. They will figure it out what went wrong and come out strongly the next day. That is how it has been all these years.
"I am not sure how this particular team is because I haven't been with them for last three years, but Mumbai's fighting spirit cannot be underestimated," Muzumdar signed off.
Tamil Nadu: 359 (R Prasanna 104, Y Mahesh 67, S Badrinath 56; Sandhu (Jr) 5-88)
Mumbai: 121-6 (S Yadav 52; L Balaji 3-16)