Once is a mistake, twice, a pattern. The pattern of Mumbai pacers making Tamil Nadu specialist batters appear ordinary on the first morning continued for the second successive season.

Riding on an all-round effort by Mumbai’s bowling pack, the host seized control of the Ranji Trophy semifinal on the first day at the Sharad Pawar Cricket Academy ground.

Despite Mumbai losing both the openers by the end of the opening day at 45 for two, Tamil Nadu had little reason to smile about. Electing to bat first, the TN batters let the team down, being dismissed for 146.

The last time these sides met, at the Brabourne Stadium in 2022-23, Mumbai shot TN down for a paltry 144. It was a surprise then to see R. Sai Kishore opting to bat on a greenish and moist surface.

Mumbai pacers had no reason to complain as they bowled accurately to force the TN batters into errors. B. Sai Sudharsan paid the price for trying to play Shardul Thakur across the line in the opening over of the match. Mohit Avasthi then got one to bounce higher than expected for N. Jagadeesan to offer a dolly to Musheer Khan at forward-short-leg.

Sai Kishore walked in to see off the new ball. But Tushar Deshpande broke the back of TN’s line-up with an opening burst of 5-2-15-3.

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Pradosh Ranjan Paul (uppish drive sharply caught on return), Sai Kishore (missed an audacious drive to peg the middle-stump back) and B. Indrajith (top-edged to a lunging Kotian at short midwicket) fell prey to Deshpande as Tamil Nadu was left reeling at 42 for five.

The next 87 minutes saw Vijay Shankar and Washington Sundar dig deep until Shardul came back for another burst to account for Vijay (caught at second slip). As the spinners came into play, Washington lived a charmed life before being dismissed as the last man.

TN’s Kuldeep Sen drew an edge off Prithvi Shaw in his first over while Sai Kishore extended his season’s tally to 48 wickets by trapping Bhupen Lalwani in front of the wickets. Musheer and nightwatchman Mohit then avoided further damage.

The game is still open and will remain so only if the pattern of pacers picking wickets in the first session continues on Sunday.



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