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Ranji Trophy SF: Mumbai have steep 445-run mountain to climb to reach final

Bengaluru: Pacers Shardul Thakur and Balwinder Singh Sandhu's fine display of bowling injected more drama into the Ranji Trophy semifinal which seems headed for an exciting finish with Mumbai needing 384 runs to dethrone defending champions Karnataka.

Abhimanyu Mithun

Nightwatchman Abhimanyu Mithun (L) of Karnataka returns to pavilion after scoring 89 runs against Mumbai during the Ranji Trophy semi-final match at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday. Pic/PTI

Set a daunting target of 445 runs, Mumbai were 61 for no loss at stumps on day two of the semifinal.

Openers Aditya Tare (40) and Akhil Herwadkar (21) were in the middle with Mumbai still needing something special for a remarkable turnaround after they were dismissed for 44 in their first innings.

Mumbai fortunately have three more days to get those runs, and looking at the approach of Tare and Herwadkar, they seem to have a plan to go for the target in a calculated manner.

On the flipside, Karnataka will fancy their chances to deal early blows.

The steady start notwithstanding, Mumbai batsmen need to bat out of their skins on the morrow even to save the game, much less win it. But Karnataka need to be wary of the former champions who have a tradition of being fighters.

Resuming at the overnight score of 10 for two, Karnataka were bundled out for 286 in their second innings, with nightwatchman Abhimanyu Mithun (89) and Ravi Kumar Samarth (58) scoring the bulk of the runs.

Tare would have hoped to take early wickets to bring his team back into the game, but he could not as he apparently seemed to have run out of ideas, which was evident as lower-order batsman Mithun made merry.

Surprisingly enough, Tare did not use his star bowler Shardul Thakur early on, giving ample opportunity for Mithun and Samarth to take the game away from Mumbai by stitching a speedy 149-run partnership for the third wicket.

Mithun rubbed salt over the wounds of Mumbai by cracking a career-best 89 off 113 balls with 14 hits to the fence. However, just when Mithun looked certain to get to his maiden first-class century, he lost the leg-stump playing outside the line of an incoming delivery from Thakur.

At lunch, Karnataka were 161 for three in their second innings, 319 head of the visitors.

Resuming the score at 161 for three at lunch, Karnataka lost the plot after in-form Samarth was stumped brilliantly by Tare off Sandhu for 58.

Thereafter, the Karnataka innings never had the momentum as Samarth too departed, lured out of the crease by spinner Harmeet Singh to be stumped.

Manish Pandey and Karun Nair then put on 61 runs for fifth wicket and took the hosts total to 222. Nair did not last long as he was caught by Tare behind the stumps off Sandhu after making a useful 28 with five hits over the ropes, leaving Karnataka at 222 for five.

After Nair's departure, the Mumbai bowlers ran through the Karnataka innings by scalping the last five wickets while conceding 64 runs.

Thakur again came away with four wickets for a match haul of eight while fellow paceman Sandhu picked up three.

Brief scores: Karnataka 202 and 286 all out (Abhimanyu Mithun 89, Ravikumar Samarth 58, Manish Pandey 42; Shardul Thakur 4/69, Balwinder Singh Sandhu 3/45, Harmeet Singh 2/109) vs Mumbai 44 and 61 for no loss (Aditya Tare 40 not out, Akhil Herwadkar 21 not out)

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