Mumbai: Ramaswamy Prasanna struck a fighting unbeaten 81 and added 111 with Vijaykumar Yo Mahesh to lift Tamil Nadu to a respectable 250 for six from a precarious position on day one of the four-day Ranji Trophy semi final against Mumbai on Tuesday.
Tamil Nadu were tottering at 139 for six at lunch, having lost five wickets on either side of the interval for the addition of only 32 runs.
However, Prasanna and Mahesh dug in and added 111 runs for the undefeated seventh wicket at the Wankhede Stadium.
At close, the 29-year-old Prasanna, playing in only his 24th first class fixture, was unbeaten after a vigil of 245 minutes during which he slammed 12 fours from 177 balls.
Yo Mahesh, a handy lower order batsman and medium pacer, was giving him company with a responsible 34 not out after a 185-minute stay at the crease, after facing 142 balls.
The seventh wicket pair denied Mumbai, who had given first strike to Tamil Nadu after winning the toss, any wicket after the first hour of the second session, and also saw off the second new ball taken eight overs before close.
Their partnership, that has spanned 279 balls, pulled the visitors from a deep rut that saw Tamil Nadu lose three wickets in four balls in only six minutes before lunch, including two off successive balls, at the same score of 107 and then two more soon after the break.
The man doing serious damage to the strong Tamil Nadu ranks after a 99-run second wicket stand between opener Murali Vijay (47) and Subramaniam Badrinath (56) was young Mumbai medium pacer Balwinder Singh Sandhu, in his first season.
The right arm bowler ended the day with fine figures of 4 for 80 after being on a hat-trick during his superb second spell of 2-0-8-2, after grabbing the wickets of Vijay and Dinesh Karthik in successive balls.
Dhawal Kulkarni secured the remaining two wickets that fell and ended with figures of 2 for 60.
The decision of Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer to insert the visitors in appeared to have backfired when Tamil Nadu raced to 50 at almost five an over after the early departure of left handed opener Abhinav Mukund (4), who dragged Kulkarni's ball on to the stumps in the 3rd over.
Vijay and Badrinath, who faced 86 balls and hit 10 fours, looked in full control when Kulkarni and Sandhu bowled their first spells in a wayward fashion, with Badri even spanking the latter for four fours to the cover region in one over.
Jaffer brought on Kshemal Waingankar and Abhishek Nayar to cut down the run-rate and they succeeded to do so with a semi defensive field.
After helping his side to reach 100 in the 28th over and completing his own half-century with a pulled four in 76 balls in the process, Badri played a poor shot to drag a wide ball from Sandhu, bowling his second spell, on to his stumps to start the slide.
The former TN captain's partnership with Vijay (80balls, 4x7), was worth 99 in 159 balls and came in four minutes under two hours.
Karthik was declared leg before to a ball that seemed to be missing the leg stump to provide Sandhu with a hat-trick chance that was denied by K Vasudevadas.
Then Vijay, having lost his focus at the fall off these two wickets in successive deliveries, chased a wide ball from Kulkarni as TN lost three wickets on 107.
Adjourning to lunch without any further loss at 125 for four, Tamil Nadu lost Vasudevadas (14) and Sunny Gupta (12) to Sandhu soon after resumption to be in a precarious position when Prasanna and Yo Mahesh staged the grand recovery.
Both the batsmen eschewed risky shots and batted with a lot of caution, though both of them were a bit lucky to remain unbeaten at the end of the day's play.
Yo Mahesh (21), who has scored 250 runs prior to this match, looked to have been trapped plumb by Ramesh Powar but the strong appeal was rejected by English umpire Peter
Later, Prasanna under-edged the off-spinner when on 71 in a total of 229 for six but wicket-keeper Onkar Gurav could not latch on to the difficult chance.
These two lucky breaks apart after tea, the duo batted extremely well and pulled Tamil Nadu to 233 for six when Jaffer summoned the second new ball after 82 overs.
Both Kulkarni and Sandhu, bowling with the new ball, were negotiated with comfort by the two batsmen who raised the 100 of the partnership in 166 minutes and 253 balls.
The first hour of play tomorrow could be crucial for both teams with the ball still quite new and the cool conditions expected to help the seam bowlers.
Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 250 for 6 in 90 overs (M Vijay 47, S Badrinath 56, R Prasanna batting 81, V Yo Mahesh batting 34; D Kulkarni 2 for 60, B S Sandhu (jr) 4 for 80) v Mumbai.