Ranji Trophy | Ashwin, the batsman, comes to TN’s rescue

His fighting effort denies Mumbai a shot at forcing an outright win

R. Ashwin produced a fighting effort with the bat for Tamil Nadu (79, 206b, 5×4, 2×6) to deny Mumbai a shot at forcing an outright win but could not prevent the visitors from taking the first-innings lead on the final day of play of their Ranji Trophy match here at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.

Ashwin added 105 runs for the eighth wicket with R. Sai Kishore (42) in a partnership that lasted 355 balls to help TN bat time and keep Mumbai at bay during the first session.

Though TN was eventually bowled out for 324 and was forced to follow-on after conceding a 164-run lead, the time taken ensured Mumbai couldn’t press for victory and both teams agreed to call off the game at tea time.

Easy going

Ashwin and Sai Kishore, who batted for more than a session on the third day, continued to play with ease in the morning, tackling the spinners with aplomb, even though there was some turn with the odd-ball keeping low.

The Mumbai attack did everything at its disposal with some disciplined bowling and innovative field-set, but the slow nature of the wicket made the task of removing the tail difficult.

Reprieved thrice

To make things worse, Mumbai was sloppy on the field dropping Ashwin thrice before he got to his half-century. Ashwin could have been dismissed for zero had Vinayak Bhoir held on to a catch at short-cover on the third day.

And on Tuesday, Tushar Deshpande attacked with short-pitched stuff from around the wicket and Ashwin hit one straight to the well-placed leg-gully fielder only for Jay Bista to drop it when the batsman was on 32.

Shashank Attarde then dropped Ashwin on 42 at short-cover before he hit the next delivery for a six down long-on.

Despite an inexperienced side, Mumbai did well to pocket three points from the match after two consecutive defeats. TN, on the other hand, once again let the game slip away from its hands and, in all probability, is unlikely to qualify, with just five points from as many games.

The scores:

Mumbai — 1st innings: 488.

Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: Abhinav Mukund c Bista b Deshpande 58, L. Suryapprakash c Deshpande b Bhoir 41, Kaushik Gandhi st Tare b Mulani 60, B. Aparajith lbw b Deshpande 14, B. Indrajith c Bista b Dias 6, Pradosh Ranjan Paul b Mulani 0, Dinesh Karthik c Tare b Dias 7, R. Ashwin b Mulani 79, R. Sai Kishore run out 42, K. Vignesh lbw b Mulani 3, T. Natarajan (not out) 0; Extras (nb-3, b-8, lb-3): 14; Total (in 156.4 overs): 324.

Fall of wickets: 1-76, 2-134, 3-178, 4-178, 5-178, 6-186, 7-195, 8-300, 9-321.

Mumbai bowling: Mulani 47.4-19-72-4, Deshpande 30-7-70-2, Dias 25-9-48-2, Attarde 29-7-87-0, Bhoir 18-3-31-1, Bista 3-3-0-0, Lad 3-2-1-0, Sarfaraz 1-0-4-0.

Tamil Nadu — 2nd innings: Abhinav Mukund (not out) 19, L. Suryapprakash c Lalwani b Attarde 18, Kaushik Gandhi (not out) 3; Extras (b-4, lb-4): 8; Total (for one wkt. in 22 overs): 48.

Fall of wicket:1-37

Mumbai bowling: Mulani 3-0-10-0, Deshpande 3-3-0-0, Bista 3-2-5-0, Dias 3-2-14-0, Attarde 5-2-6-1, Bhoir 4-2-2-0, Lad 1-0-3-0.

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