Special Correspondent

Two wickets and four catches by the skipper

MUMBAI: Nilesh Kulkarni gained Mumbai a foothold in the Ranji Trophy semifinals against Uttar Pradesh, claiming Mohd. Kaif's wicket for a vital breakthrough and also picking up four catches on an eventful day two at the Wankhede stadium.

Mumbai, after restricting UP's first innings to 250 off 80.4 overs, knocked back 21 runs in the second essay without losing openers Sahil Kukreja and Omkar Khanvilkar.

UP has a battle on its hands if Mumbai's resilient show, inspired by skipper Kulkarni, is any indication. The visitors, after grabbing the first innings lead, are merely 30 runs ahead at stumps. Khanvilkar, promoted as opener in place of Vinayak Samant, batted without qualms in the company of first innings top-scorer Kukreja, determined to graft for runs. The batting specialists will be looking forward to making amends for the first day's surrender.

Early strikes

Mumbai began on a high, Jyoti Yadav, Shivkant Shukla and Praveen Kumar dismissed on 13. Kulkarni snapped up Yadav at gully off Avishkar Salvi, then latched onto a ferocious Suresh Raina sweep at square leg, the bowler to benefit being Ramesh Powar. UP's plans went awry with captain Mohd. Kaif beaten by a Kulkarni ball pitched down the side, bouncing onto the wicket off the pads. Raina (72, 107b, 9 x 4) and Kaif (64, 139b, 7 x 4, 1 x 6) plundered 123 in a fourth-wicket stand which may have turned decisive but for the Mumbai skipper's blows.

Kulkarni's catch to send back Gyanendra Pandey was special, flying to his right at gully. He then gobbled up the day's fourth catch to dismiss tailender Ashish Zaidi, showing the way after a controlled, incisive spell (18.4-5-33-2) with the ball. Off-spinner Powar turned on the pressure from the other end, bagging three wickets.

The scores: Mumbai - 1st innings: 199.

Uttar Pradesh - 1st innings: J. Yadav c Kulkarni b Salvi 4, S. Shukla lbw b Malvi 8, Praveen Kumar c Samant b Salvi 0, M. Kaif b Kulkarni 64, S. Raina c Kulkarni b Powar 72, G. Pandey c Kulkarni b Hazare 15, R. Shamshad (run out) 40, P. Chawla c Samant b Powar 25, Amir Khan c Kukreja b Kulkarni 11, A. Zaidi c Kulkarni b Powar 5, S. Srivastava (not out) 0; Extras (lb-2, w-1, nb-3): 6. Total (in 80.4 overs): 250.

Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-13, 3-13, 4-136, 5-160, 6-180, 7-233, 8-233, 9-243.

Mumbai bowling: Salvi 19-3-56-2, Hazare 10-1-34-1, Malvi 25-0-27-1, Powar 28-4-98-3, Kulkarni 18.4-5-33-2.

Mumbai - 2nd innings: S. Kukreja (batting) 10, O. Khanvilkar (batting) 11; Total (for no loss in 11 overs): 21.

UP bowling: Zaidi 5-2-6-0, Praveen 3-0-5-0, Srivastava 2-0-4-0, Chawla 1-0-6-0.

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