There is a reason why many teams are said to be wary of playing Mumbai in Ranji Trophy knockout games. On Monday, it was Delhi's turn to realise this.
Building on a dogged performance by its middle order and tail-end batsmen, Mumbai bowlers made the best of post-tea conditions to knock back three wickets.
Delhi were 85 for three in reply to the hosts’ 500 at the end of Day II of the Ranji Trophy semi-final here at the Cricket Club of India.
With two more days to go, Delhi still have plenty of time to claw back into the game. Their hopes rest with Shikhar Dhawan, who showed sublime touch as he added 50 runs with captain Rajat Bhatia in an unbroken stand. But for now, Mumbai have them on the mat.
The unforgiving cricket lovers of this burgeoning metropolis have labelled this Mumbai team as mediocre. But the players, in the first two days have shown that even though the big names are missing, there is no shortage of the famed fighting spirit.
While overnight centurion Abhishek Nayar went on to score 156, it was Iqbal Abdullah's stoic 69 that brought Mumbai from a good position to one from where they can go for the kill.
Ajit Agarkar welcomed Delhi batsmen with some aggressive bowling.
In the first over, one of his short-pitched deliveries hit opener Mayank Tehlan on the helmet. If that ball pegged the visitors on to the back foot, they stayed there for a long time.
At the other end, Usman Malvi bowled a probing line, inviting the batsmen to drive. Tehlan fell first, trying to drive one pitched well up.
The cherry took a thick edge and went flying to third slip. Aditya Jain was then trapped right in front of the wicket by a fuller length Agarkar delivery.
While Dhawan played a few sparkling drives and pulls at one end, the experienced Mithun Manhas on the other was castled by Avishkar Salvi.
Delhi could have been staring at worse. Experienced campaigner Bhatia was dropped on one by his Mumbai counterpart Wasim Jaffer at second slip. The dropped catch was the only glitch for Mumbai and only Day III would show whether it proves costly.
Earlier, the day began badly for Mumbai as they had overnight batsman Agarkar caught at cover.
Ramesh Powar too fell soon when he stepped out for a biggie only to see his woodwork upset.
Abdullah came to the crease and soon sent one to the straight boundary and followed it up with a pull with the same result. He added 74 runs for seventh wicket with Nayar.
But once Nayar fell, caught in the deep mid-wicket region, Abdullah dropped anchor and added 50 runs for ninth wicket with medium pacer Usman Malvi. He mixed cheeky paddle shots with some deft drives to frustrate the bowlers. The left-hander finally fell going for runs when he was running out of partners.