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Mumbai stall to TN pacers

Mumbai: Tamil Nadu seamers — M. R. Srinivas, D. J. Gokulakrishnan and skipper S. Suresh — bowled a tight line and length to restrict former champions Mumbai to 259 for nine in their first innings on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy final at the Wankhede here Sunday.

Mumbai skipper Paras Mhambrey won the toss and elected to bat first on a seamer friendly wicket but the decision backfired as the team’s innings stuttered in the post-lunch session.

Gokulakrishnan, who was one of the two replacements for Tamil Nadu along with batsman S. Badrinath, gave the visitors the much-needed breakthrough after Mumbai openers Vinayak Mane (13) and Wasim Jaffer (83) put on 37 runs.

Mane, while trying to fend a rising delivery from Gokulakrishnan gave an easy catch to wicketkeeper P. Raaju.

Jaffer along with Nishit Shetty, who was dropped twice even before he had reached 20, brought up the best partnership of the innings adding 63 off 120 balls for the second wicket before lefthander Shetty (21) chased an outswinger from Gokulakrishnan and snicked to Raaju.

Meanwhile, Jaffer was gaining in confidence with every shot. He played some pleasing cover drives and looked in fine nick. He flicked L. Balaji and straight drove Srinivas to the boundary effortlessly.

Jaffer also swept Dandapani twice to the fence and hit left-arm spinner S. Sriram through the covers for a couple of boundaries. He brought up his fifty with a flick off Suresh.

At the other end, Amol Muzumdar, who has had a very poor season with the bat, was lucky to be let off on the very first ball he faced. He was dropped by Gokulakrishnan at gully off a Suresh outswinger.

Jaffer, who was completely set and looked good for a hundred, played a very poor shot to be caught at second slip by Sadagopan Ramesh off Srinivas after adding 42 runs with Muzumdar.

Bhavin Thakkar, who scored a crucial 76 in the semi-final against Baroda last week, lasted just a single ball and Srinivas was on a hattrick after trapping Thakkar leg before wicket.

Lefthander Sairaj Bahutule denied Srinivas the hattrick. Bahutule (34 off 86 balls, 4x4) and Ajit Agarkar (26 off 75 balls, 4x4) tried to retrieve the situation with a 53-run stand for the sixth wicket off 21.4 overs but once they left, the lower-order surrendered too meekly.

The Mumbai lower-order, which has retrieved the side from lowly-placed situations several times in the past, failed against the TN bowlers.

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