Mumbai thrash divided Tamil Nadu, enter 48th Ranji Trophy final | Crickit

Mumbai thrash divided Tamil Nadu, enter 48th Ranji Trophy final

Mar 05, 2024 06:27 AM IST

After the innings defeat in the semis inside 3 days, TN coach Sulakshan Kulkarni blames skipper R Sai Kishore for choosing to bat on a seaming Mumbai pitch.

Mumbai capped their dominant showing by thrashing Tamil Nadu inside three days in the Ranji Trophy semi-finals to storm into the final on Monday. The 41-time champions completed victory by an innings and 70 runs to enter the final for a record-extending 48th time.

Mumbai record-extending 48th Ranji Trophy final.
Mumbai record-extending 48th Ranji Trophy final.

Mumbai hosted the semi-final at the MCA-Sharad Pawar Cricket Academy ground, Bandra Kurla Complex. The title clash though will be held at the Wankhede Stadum from March 10 against the winner of the other semi-final between former champions Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha.

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Shardul Thakur was Mumbai's star with a brilliant all-round show. After his thrilling 109 on Sunday helped Mumbai take a 232-run lead, he bowled an inspired opening spell in the second innings to extinguish Tamil Nadu’s hopes of a fightback. Thakur snared two wickets to leave the visitors tottering at 10/3. Despite a brief fightback by Baba Indrajith (70), Tamil Nadu never recovered from the early collapse and were 162 all out.

Shardul was superb with the new ball, putting on an exhibition of how to use the conditions. He bowled within the stumps and moved the ball just enough, returning figures of 10-4-16-2. With a big first innings deficit, TN batters in a bid to be positive made mistakes. Opener B Sai Sudharsan was out trying to play a forceful shot; the bottom hand taking over led to a bat-pad gap and he was caught behind off an inside edge. N Jagdeesan played across to a fuller ball and the late swing opened him to be trapped leg before.

Thakur’s new ball partner Mohit Avasthi was also superb. He produced a beauty to get rid of the well-set Indrajith, the ball kissing his glove on way to the keeper.

In the morning, Mumbai’s last wicket pair of Tanush Kotian (89*) and Tushar Deshpande (26) batted freely to stretch their partnership to 88 (130 balls). Kotian looked good for his second successive century, but Deshpande's dismissal left him 11 runs short.

The defeat opened the Pandora’s Box in the Tamil Nadu camp, coach Sulakshan Kulkarni calling skipper R Sai Kishore’s decision to bat on a seaming wicket wrong. After Sai Kishore decided to bat first, Tamil Nadu collapsed to 42/5 before being shot out for 146.

“I always speak straightforward — we lost the match at 9’o clock on Day One. Everything was set, we won the toss, as a coach, as a Mumbaikar, I know the conditions well. We should have bowled but the captain had some different instinct," said Kulkarni. "Ultimately he is the boss. I can give my feedback and inputs (as to) what kind of wickets and Mumbai’s mindset also," the former Mumbai player and coach said.

"We were mentally prepared that whoever wins the toss would bowl first. We knew that we would bowl first. The moment they (TV broadcast) said we would bat first, whatever you say, it goes in the batsmen’s minds. That first half an hour (before play) got in the batsmen’s minds,” the coach said.

Kulkarni said he had anticipated a lower-order fightback from Mumbai. “(From) 106/7, I knew before the match that this (Mumbai fightback) may happen. They are the best (Nos) 9 and 10 in India. I said this in the dressing room, that their batting starts after 6. I can take the horse to the water, the horse has to drink."

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