Mumbai put up a spirited performance against defending champions Karnataka to gain a first innings lead of 21 runs on Day Three of their last Ranji Trophy league match at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday.

Mumbai's Harmeet Singh celebrates a Karnataka wicket yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Mumbai's Harmeet Singh celebrates a Karnataka wicket yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble 

The slender lead has kept Mumbai in the hunt for a place in the quarter-finals. The hosts began the day well with left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh scalping the big wicket of Manish Pandey (5) in the second over of the day with a simple caught and bowled.

But despite an early breakthrough, Mumbai had a lacklustre session as debutant Shishir Bhavane and Ravikumar Samarth kept the scoreboard ticking. The duo steadily accumulated ones and twos to take Karnataka to a strong position of 293 for 3 in 98 overs at lunch.

Something brilliant was needed to break the partnership and Mumbai skipper Aditya Tare provided that. Bhavane, batting on 62 off 133 balls chased a wide delivery from Balwinder Singh Sandhu which was brilliantly caught by Tare. Diving to his left, Tare held on to a low, one-handed catch to give Mumbai a much-needed breakthrough.

Samarth shines
The dismissal triggered off a batting collapse as Karnataka lost their last six wickets for a mere 78 runs to be bowled out for 415 in their first innings. Opening batsman Samarth top-scored with 180 (400 balls, 16x4, 1x6). Harmeet Singh cut through Karnataka's batting line-up by claiming six for 139 runs to turn the match in Mumbai's favour.

Playing only his second match of the season, Harmeet extracted turn and bounce to return career-best figures in first-class cricket.

He got the all-important wicket of Samarth, caught at first slip by Surya Kumar Yadav with the ball just bouncing a bit from the rough to induce an edge. "I was focussing on bowling in the right areas.

They opted for the heavy roller in the morning which settled the pitch a bit. In the afternoon and post-tea session, we planned to dry up the runs for Samarth and play on his patience which helped us getting his important wicket," said Harmeet. Mumbai were 19 for no loss in eight overs with Tare and Mangela both batting on nine.

Brief scores
Mumbai 436 all out & 19-0 lead Karnataka 415 all out (R Samarth 180, S Bhavane 62, R Uthappa 49; Harmeet Singh 6-139) by 40 runs