Ravichandran Ashwin (79) and R Sai Kishore (42) put in blood, sweat and tears in abundance on the final day but that just wouldn’t do the trick for Tamil Nadu against Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy 2019-20 duel at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here.
Once the pair was separated, the glimmer of hope that Tamil Nadu had was dashed. The home side got bundled out for 324 in 156.4 overs, conceding an advantage of 164 runs to Mumbai, which imposed the follow-on. As the tourist had the edge - a substantial one - after the opening exchanges, it collected three points while the Baba Aparajith-led team had to settle for a solitary point.
After the closure of the Elite B fixture, Tamil Nadu has five points from as many matches. Mumbai, led by wicketkeeper Aditya Tare, picked up its first points in three contests to move to nine from four games. An insurmountable mission in front of them, lower-order batsmen Ashwin and Sai Kishore were up for the challenge.
The former, in fact, drove straight from his local academy at Loyola, where he groomed up-and-coming talent in the early hours of the day. The duo did the job to near perfection for almost 27 overs on Tuesday before the left-handed Sai Kishore fell short of the line for a well-made 42 runs.
After nudging the fifth ball of the 148th over onto the leg side, the southpaw rushed for a single, which Ashwin looked disinterested in. The 23-year-old almost made it to the non-striker’s end by the time he was asked to go back to his crease. Sai Kishore, who did manage to get into the cameraman’s frame, was unable to reach home, allowing Tare to complete the run-out set up by Siddhesh Lad.
Ashwin, dropped at 32 by Jay Bista, meanwhile displayed sheer determination, sending the ball past the advertising cushions five times on Day Four. The India international used the long handle to good effect against Shams Mulani (4/72) and Shashank Attarde (0/87), smoking both for one six each.
At lunch, Tamil Nadu had 316 runs on the board for the loss of eight wickets, with Ashwin and tailender K Vignesh (3) unbeaten. But following the breather, left-arm spinner Mulani got things done in a matter of couple of overs. In the 155th over, he removed Vignesh, who misread the trajectory of the ball and was adjudged leg before.
Ashwin was finally dismissed in the 157th over as Mulani hit the timber. His scalp brought about the curtains on Tamil Nadu’s first innings that concluded at 324 all out. Not in a mood to give up on an outright victory, the away side enforced the follow-on on Tamil Nadu.
The host did lose a wicket – of that of L Suryapprakash (18) – in the 13th over, but refused to throw away any more. Since attaining a positive result looked beyond reach, Mumbai settled for a draw at tea and shook hands with its opposition.
Brief scores: Mumbai (1st innings) 488 all-out in 148.4 overs; Tamil Nadu (1st innings) 324 all-out in 156.4 overs (R Ashwin 79, K Gandhi 60, A Mukund 58, S Mulani 4/72) and following-on (2nd innings) 48 for one in 22 overs.