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Ranji Trophy: Mumbai repeats past, defeats Tamil Nadu within three days

Updated on: 05 March,2024 07:00 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Subodh Mayure |

41-time champions Mumbai demolish Tamil Nadu inside just three days at MCA-BKC to enter final of Ranji Trophy for the 48th time; summit clash at Wankhede from March 10

Ranji Trophy: Mumbai repeats past, defeats Tamil Nadu within three days

Mumbai pacer Mohit Awasthi (second from left) celebrates with skipper Ajinkya Rahane after dismissing Tamil Nadu’s Washington Sundar yesterday. Pics/Atul Kamble

What’s with short Ranji Trophy clashes between Mumbai and Tamil Nadu? In the 1972-73 final, Ajit Wadekar’s team needed only a few minutes on the third day to beat S Venkataraghavan’s hosts for the title. Twenty-two years later, Sachin Tendulkar’s eventual champions trounced VB Chandrasekhar’s Tamil Nadu inside three days. And on Monday, Ajinkya Rahane did something similar to demolish Sai Kishore’s team by an innings and 70 runs to enter 41-time champions Mumbai’s 48th Ranji Trophy final, to be held at Wankhede Stadium from March 10 against either Vidarbha or Madhya Pradesh.

National selector Salil Ankola was there to witness Mumbai’s victory. Ditto fellow fast bowler—BCCI’s General Manager Abey Kuruvilla—both of whom played in that 1994-95 quarter-final at Wankhede. Also present was ex-India all-rounder Robin Singh, who top-scored for TN with a fighting 67 in the second innings. In a completely one-sided affair on Monday, Mumbai’s bowling unit didn’t allow the visitors to offer a fight and were bowled out for a mere 162 runs in 51.5 overs. Mumbai take pride in playing session by session and their timely execution of plans resulted in a massive triumph. 

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Thakur claims two

TN’s white-ball cricket mindset and blunders caused their defeat in this crucial encounter. TN opener Sai Sudharsan (5), who was dismissed by pacer Shardul Thakur (2-16) for a duck in the first innings, was lucky to survive on the very first ball of the second innings off the same bowler when Shreyas Iyer dropped him at short midwicket. But that didn’t demoralise Thakur as he trapped the other opener, Narayan Jagadeesan (0) leg before in his next over. Sudharsan lasted just 15 balls as Thakur sent back the left-hander with an inswinger which wicketkeeper Hardik Tamore held on to. The visitors suffered a big blow in the eighth over when pacer Mohit Avasthi (2-26) dismissed one-drop Washington Sundar (4) via Tamore again.

Mumbai’s Shams Mulani at the MCA-BKC yesterday
Mumbai’s Shams Mulani at the MCA-BKC yesterday

However, from 10-3, Baba Indrajith (70, 9x4) and Pradosh Ranjan Paul (25) gave TN some respite, stitching a 73-run stand. Even after Paul’s dismissal, Indrajith, 29, didn’t lose focus while shaping his 27th first-class half-century. He teamed up with India all-rounder Vijay Shankar (24, 1x4) very well till Avasthi induced an edge for Tamore to take his fourth catch of the innings. 

Though Vijay was showing intent to stay at the pitch and play on the merit of the ball, it was not the same with skipper Sai Kishore (20-ball 21, 2x4, 1x6). He was bowled by off-spinner Tanush Kotian (2-18) in the last over before tea as TN still trailed by 79 runs. Then left-arm spinner Shams Mulani (4-53) struck—all his scalps within 25 minutes post the tea interval.

Super Tamore

Tamore once again came into the picture through a quick stumping off Mulani, which ended Vijay’s 74-ball patient knock. Earlier, Mumbai added 25 runs to their overnight score of 353-9, thanks to spin-bowling all-rounder Kotian’s fine knock of 89 (12x4) not out. Kotian, who had four wickets and a dominating unbeaten half-century in the match, is all set for his second Ranji final.

Kotian credited skipper Ajinkya Rahane for Mumbai’s dominating performance this season. “Ajuda backs each and every player, even when someone is down. He encourages him and extracts the maximum from him. So he’s the main pillar of our team. We are happy to play under him,” Kotian told reporters. TN head coach Sulakshan Kulkarni admitted that his team lost even before the game started, when captain Sai Kishore decided to bat first on BKC’s green pitch. 

Meanwhile, Mumbai Cricket Association Secretary Ajinkya Naik explained the reason behind hosting the Ranji final at Wankhede Stadium. “The Wankhede Stadium has been the home of Mumbai cricket for almost half a century. Given the legacy of the tournament and importance of such a big game for the Mumbai cricket community, it is fitting that the final be played here,” he said.

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