Lahli: Defending champions Mumbai edged out Tamil Nadu by two wickets in a low-scoring thriller as the opening round Ranji Trophy encounter between the two heavyweights ended in less than two and half days on Saturday.
While BCCI has decided on having neutral venues so that home advantage is wiped out, the character of the track at the Bansi Lal Stadium remained as it has been for over the seasons as there was only single batsman in Abhinav Mukund (56) getting a 50 plus score in the match.
After being dismissed for 87 in the first innings, Tamil Nadu did shade better in the second essay scoring 185, which left Mumbai with a target of 97.
They were reeling at 60 for seven at one stage when veteran Abhishek Nayar, whose oodles of experience at this level came in handy, struck a quickfire 45 off 56 balls.
Nayar's knock had five fours and two sixes as he negated the threat created by seamers Aswin Crist (4/43) and Krishnamoorthy Vignesh (4/29), who had put the Ranji champions on the mat.
Nayar added an invaluable 30 runs with Balvinder Singh Sandhu (Jr) for the eighth wicket to take the team total to 90 before he was sent back by Crist.
But Nayar kept his cool in tense situation to hit a lusty blow as the 41-time champions logged home full points from the encounter.
Tamnil Nadu started the day at 153 for six -- enjoying a lead of 64 runs but could add only 32 more runs as they lost the final four wickets in only 8.4 overs.
Dhawal Kulkarni, who would soon be donning the India ODI colours once again, polished off the tail finishing with 6 for 47 as he ended with match-haul of 10 for 88 on a pacer friendly wicket. It was his 14th five-for in first-class cricket.
The target of 97 would have been a cakewalk on any other wicket but Lahli, which is an open ground is a different proposition.
Mumbai lost their top five for only 35 runs in 17 overs but it was Nayar, who again bailed them out as he has done it innumerable times for the title favourites over the years.
Brief Scores: Tamil Nadu 87 and 185 (Abhinav Mukund 56, Dhawal Kulkarni 6/47)
Mumbai 176 & (target 97) 97/8 (Abhishek Nayar 45 batting, A Aswin Crist 4/43, K Vignesh 4/29). Mumbai won by 2 wkts.
Points: Mumbai 6; Tamil Nadu 0.