Ranji Trophy 2024: Mumbai Madhya Pradesh take control on Day 1 of semifinal fixtures

In a demonstration of sheer fast bowling prowess, the opening day of the Ranji Trophy 2024 semifinals saw seamers dictating terms and orchestrating collapses on Saturday. Madhya Pradesh and Mumbai stepped up their game with commendable bowling performances that put them in commanding positions in their respective matches.

Under the overcast skies of Nagpur’s Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground, the Madhya Pradesh bowlers made full use of the conditions to bundle out their opponents, Vidarbha, for a paltry 170. The spotlight was firmly on Avesh Khan, whose incisive fast bowling returned impressive figures of 4 for 49. Avesh’s efforts acquired further sheen given his previous struggles in the season, having collected a modest haul of six wickets across six innings prior to this fixture. He stemmed the Vidarbha momentum with a crucial breakthrough, sending Dhruv Shorey back to the pavilion early in the innings. His precision also accounted for the dismissal of the in-form opener Atharva Taide, rattling Vidarbha’s batting core.

Despite the initial setbacks, Madhya Pradesh demonstrated resilience with the bat. Karun Nair remained a significant figure in the middle, providing stability with a valiant 63, which helped anchor Madhya Pradesh’s response. Besides Avesh, Venkatesh Iyer and Kulwant Khejroliya chipped in with two wickets apiece, making for a collective bowling display that handed their team an early advantage. By the close of play, Madhya Pradesh’s batters had compiled a solid 47 for the loss of one wicket, reinforcing their dominant position in the game.

On another front, in the second semifinal, the Mumbai pace attack captivated the attention. Their express fast bowlers, Shardul Thakur and Tushar Deshpande, caused a significant upheaval within the Tamil Nadu batting camp. The ferocity of their attack was such that Tamil Nadu found themselves reeling at 17 for the loss of four wickets. It was an unnerving situation for a side well-known for their batting prowess, and the dismal prospect of not crossing the century mark loomed large.

Nevertheless, cricket often showcases stories of grit and defiance. Tamil Nadu’s determination surfaced through the partnership between Washington Sundar and Vijay Shankar, who together added a fighting 48 runs for the sixth wicket. Their stand ensured that Tamil Nadu crossed the initial threat and pushed the score past 100. Vijay proved to be the top-scorer with a crucial knock of 44, while Sundar lent support with a patient 43 off 138 balls. Despite their resistance, the team ultimately succumbed to the Mumbai bowling assault, folding for 146 in 64.1 overs. Tushar Deshpande ended with remarkable figures of 3 for 24, and the supporting cast of Mushee Khan and Tanush Kotian took two wickets each, underscoring a supremely disciplined Mumbai bowling effort.

However, the Tamil Nadu bowlers weren’t about to let the day end without asserting themselves. Right-arm pacer Kuldeep Sen sent back the dangerous Prithvi Shaw for a mere five runs, signaling early intent and giving Mumbai a taste of their own medicine. Captain Sai Kishore then joined the act by dismissing Bhupen Lalwani, setting the stage for a potential comeback. At stumps, Mumbai had navigated to 45 for 2 in 17 overs, with Musheer Khan still at the crease on an unbeaten 24 off 53 balls, offering a glimmer of hope and the promise of a challenging Day 2.

Day 1 of the Ranji Trophy 2024 semifinals will undoubtedly be remembered for the compelling display of seam bowling precision and the roller-coaster that is red-ball cricket, where the scales can tip dramatically in just a few exhilarating moments.

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