Shardul Thakur played a crucial knock of 52 runs    AFP
Shardul Thakur played a crucial knock of 52 runs AFP

Day Three belonged to the Mumbai lower-order as they contributed to help the team gain a healthy first-innings lead in the semi-final of Ranji Trophy 2016-17. At stumps on the second day, the reigning champions were 171 for 4 at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot. Skipper Aditya Tare continued batting on Day Three alongside Shreyas Iyer and took Mumbai past 200, putting up a 62-run partnership. Major contribution came later the day as Abhishek Nayar and Shardul Thakur hit individual half-centuries to add more solidity to the innings, handing their team a 101-run lead at the end of their innings.

Iyer who was unbeaten at 24 on Day Two resumed batting with Tare, who was not out at 19. Iyer soon departed, scoring 36 runs while Tare stringed the innings together, batting longer. Nayar joined the captain at the crease and put up the biggest partnership of the day. The two batsmen played with a lot of maturity, taking the side to 270 for 5 at lunch. Nayar got to his half-century, his 30th in First-Class cricket, right after lunch but departed for 58. Nayar and Tare s was the second partnership in excess of 100 after the one between Surya Kumar Yadav and Praful Waghela. They had already pushed the score beyond 300. Tare departed following Nayar, scoring 83. Mumbai had yet another brief but crucial partnership forming between Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Shardul Thakur after this.

FULL CRICKET UPDATES: Ranji Trophy 2016-17, semi-finals

The two looked in good sync and played according to a plan. Sandhu showed good defensive skills and Thakur, a natural hard-hitter, kept his calm as he hit his first boundary after facing 47 deliveries. They played the new ball very well. A surprising strategy came from Tamil Nadu skipper Abhinav Mukund as he did not hand the new ball to the much-succesful Aswin Crist. Instead Baba Aparajith shared the new ball with Thangarasu Natarajan.

It was Vijay Shankar who broke the 44-run partnership after tea. He tried the patience of the batsman and bowled a fuller delivery in the line of off-stump and Sandhu was beaten by swing and nicked it to the wicketkeeper. Thakur kept batting but lost his partner Akshay Girap soon off a delivery from Shankar. Thakur finally fell for 52, bringing an end to the Mumbai innings with 406 runs. The lead had extended to 101.

Shankar s spell was the game changer for Tamil Nadu. The bowler was the most successful with 4 wickets in the innings. Aparajith picked up 2 wickets.

Brief scores:

Tamil Nadu 305 trail Mumbai 406 (Praful Waghela 48, Surya Kumar Yadav 73, Aditya Tare 83, Shreyas Iyer 36, Abhishek Nayar 58, Balwinder Singh Sandhu 32, Shardul Thakur 52; Baba Aparajith 2 for 35, Vijay Shankar 4 for 59) by 101 runs.