Mumbai had Tamil Nadu on the mat at 139 for six at one stage
Ramaswamy Prasanna — selected to bring quality to the lower middle-order in the absence of the experienced S. Badrinath in the early part of the Ranji Trophy league — has turned out to be a big hit for Tamil Nadu.
Languishing for almost two years, the 29-year-left hander lifted his team from a potentially doomed opening day of the semifinal against Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium here on Tuesday.
After enduring the pressure situation with aplomb for four hours and five minutes, Prasanna is close to his second century for Tamil Nadu in five years; the first one being a 134, batting at No. 3 against Uttar Pradesh in the winter of 2006.
Prasanna had already vindicated his selection with three half centuries and on Tuesday the left-hander demonstrated a big heart for a fight. His gritty unbeaten 81 (245m, 177b, 12x4) placed Tamil Nadu at a respectable 250 for six.
Giving him company was Yomahesh, who himself — apart from playing his role as a clever seamer — has excelled with the bat making 250 runs until the quarterfinals against Maharashtra.
The two added 111 runs and halted a rival attack that appeared quite ruthless some three quarters of an hour before the long interval and for almost an hour into the second session. Tamil Nadu did not lose a wicket after half past one in the afternoon.
Tamil Nadu — invited to bat first — lost its run machine, the left-handed Abhinav Mukund off the 11th ball he faced inside-edging Dhawal Kulkarni onto the stumps.
But Murali Vijay and Badrinath sent the ball racing to the fence off a bowling that afforded length and width. Badrinath punished Balwinder Singh Sandhu (Jr) for four boundaries in a single over.
Vijay and Badrinath's unhurried ways of batting proved that there was no demon in the pitch.
Wasim Jaffer effected seven bowling changes before the lunch break. He ushered in off-spinner Ramesh Powar, changed the ends of left-arm spinner Ankeet Chavan and Sandhu, and then brought back Kulkarni and Kshemal Waingankar.
The second-wicket partnership was one short of the 100 mark when Badrinath under-edged Sandhu on to the stumps. Off the next ball the young Sardar won a leg before appeal against Dinesh Karthik from umpire Hariharan.
Kulkarni then forced Vijay to nick to 'keeper Onkar Gurav. From 107 for one, Tamil Nadu declined to 107 for four. Mumbai struck twice again, dismissing K. Shri Vasudevadas and Sunny Gupta, before Prasanna and Yomahesh got together to stage the rescue act.
Ramesh Powar and the Mumbai close-in fielders appealed for a leg before against Yomahesh on 21, but English umpire Peter Hartley was not interested. Then Gurav missed a difficult under-edge off Prasanna when the batsman was on 71.
The scores: Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: Abhinav b Kulkarni 4, M. Vijay c Gurav b Kulkarni 47, S. Badrinath b Sandhu (Jr) 56, D. Karthik lbw b Sandhu (jr) 0, K. Shri Vasudevadas c Gurav b Sandhu (jr) 14, R. Prasanna (batting) 81, S. Gupta c Shah b Sandhu (Jr) 12, V. Yomahesh (batting) 34; Extras (b-1, nb-1): 2; Total (for six wkts in 90 overs): 250.
Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-107, 3-107, 4-107, 5-125, 6-139.
Mumbai bowling: Kulkarni 26-10-60-2, Sandhu 21-3-80-4, Waingankar 14-5-32-0, Nayar 5-0-23-0, Powar 12-1-34-0, Chavan 1-0-2-19-0, Yadav 2-0-1-1-0.