| TNís fate rests on Badaniís (23 batting) shoulders
Mumbai: With a day to go, it is still anybodyís guess who will be the new Ranji Trophy champions. Chasing 377 for victory, Tamil Nadu were 102 for three at stumps at the Wankhede Stadium Wednesday. However, if they can bat out the last day, Tamil Nadu will become the champions, courtesy, an 11-run first innings lead.
The hosts, resuming at 228 for four, declared their second innings at 387 for seven.
S. Badrinath (12 batting) and Hemang Badani (23 batting) took the visitors to stumps after being reduced to three for 62 at one stage. Captain S. Suresh (44), Sadgopan Ramesh and Sridharan Sriram were out cheaply, making things really difficult for Tamil Nadu.
Earlier, the hosts added 159 runs to their overnight score before declaring their innings midway through the second session. Middle-order batsman Bhavin Thakkar made a responsible 66 off 138 balls before severe leg cramps forced him to retire hurt.
Thakker was involved in an 88-run eighth wicket partnership with Romesh Powar (53n.o.).
Sairaj Bahutule (27), struck a few lusty blows towards the end of the innings before being run out, going for a non-existent second run.
Powar also took heavy toll of spinners S. Sriram and off-spinner Dhandapani, reaching his 50 with a lofted on-drive off Suresh.
When Tamil Nadu began their chase, it was Ajit Agarkar who provided Mumbai with the initial breakthrough. Agarkar, who claimed four wickets in the first innings, had Ramesh (6) caught by Wasim Jaffer at covers as he went for a flashy off-drive.
Agarkar could have bagged Sriramís wicket in the same over had Vinayak Mane held on to a straight forward chance at first slip.
However, it didnít prove too costly as leg-spinner Bahutule trapped the left-hander plumb in front of the wicket.
Suresh, who had negotiated the new ball quite confidently, played down the wrong line to a Paras Mhambrey inswinger, getting his off-stump shattered.
However, Badrinath and Badani played sensibly to bat out the last ten overs, adding 40 for the unbeaten fourth wicket.
But things wonít be easy for Tamil Nadu on the final day with the pitch affording a lot of turn.
With Bahutule bowling round the wicket and using the rough caused by the pacersí footmarks, the Tamil Nadu batsmen (led by Badani) have to be at their best.