Jharkhand batsman Saurabh Tiwary compiled his maiden double ton, a swashbuckling 238, before the team's bowlers stifled Mumbai's batsmen only to loosen the grip on a rollercoaster second day two of their Group A Ranji Trophy match in Mumbai on Saturday.
In reply to the visitors' first innings total of 351, Mumbai were pushed firmly on the back foot by the pace of Varun Aaron before Hiken Shah (46 batting) and Suryakumar Yadav (49 batting) came to their side's rescue with an unbroken 96-run stand for the sixth wicket.
The duo, who came together when the 40-time champions were tottering at 114 for five before tea, batted through the last session to guide Mumbai to 210 for 5, still 141 runs behind the visitors' score.
Aaron, in his seven-over first spell, used his extra pace to breach the defence of opener Sushant Marathe off the second ball and then struck an even bigger blow by dismissing in-form batsman Wasim Jaffer (1) to leave Mumbai gasping at 30 for 2.
Opener Aditya Tare made a breezy 67 off 120 balls before getting out while Siddesh Lad (16) and skipper Abhishek Nayar (19) could not convert their starts into bigger things. It was then left to Shah and Yadav to stem the rot.
In the morning, Tiwary, resuming at a career-high 175 in a team total of 262 for 8, continued his assault on the hapless Mumbai bowling attack by carting them for four more sixes and nine additional fours before being dismissed while going for another big hit off left arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar.
Tiwary added 63 runs on Saturday, 60 coming off sixes and fours, in just 81 balls before he got out at 334. He struck Akbar Khan for 22 runs in the opening over with a six and four fours.
Shiv Shankar Rao remained not out on 23 after guiding the eastern India side past the 350 mark. For Mumbai, Javed Khan and Dabholkar shared eight wickets equally.
Jharkhand captain Shahbaz Nadeem praised Tiwary, who forged a 154-run stand with tail-ender Rao, saying that it was a dream knock.
"Tiwary played an outstanding innings of 238 and against Mumbai, you can say it is a dream. The bowlers also did a wonderful job. We got them at 110 for five and they have got a partnership now. It is a matter of one wicket and after that their tail will start...Till now, it has gone in our favour," Nadeem told reporters.
The left-arm spinner was happy with the performance put up by his side and said they hadn't been playing to their full potential in the earlier games.
"In the last few matches we have performed below our potential and in this match only Tiwary scored and the rest of the batsmen didn't. But even then we are doing a pretty good job," the 24-year old said.
Mumbai opener Aditya Tare said the defending champions are in a tough situation, but expressed hope that the team would get past the Jharkhand first innings score.
"We have still got about 140 runs (to chase) and 5 wickets, so obviously a tough situation. We still have got two good batsman set there and hopefully they can get us through," he said.
The wicket-keeper batsman added that it is good for the side to be in a tough situation in the league stage before the knockouts.
"In the first game also we were caught up and we had a tough situation, but Sachin (Tendulkar) sir was there and he bailed us out. Obviously you have to play out of your skins in the league games to get going in the knockouts.
"But it is still a long way to go. But it is nice to have challenging games in the league itself because it shows what our quality is," he said.
He added that India pacer Varun Aaron's spell also shook them up, as they lost the important wicket of Wasim Jaffer.
"He got two quick wickets. He got a wicket in the first over and then Wasim bhai's wicket. That kind of shook us because Wasim bhai is a big batsman, who is in good form," Tare said.
The 26-year old, who made 67, lamented the shot he played to get out and said, "Definitely it was a bad shot on my part and I let my team down and let myself down."
Brief scores: Jharkhand 351 (Saurabh Tiwary 238; J Khan 4 for 79, V Dabholkar 4 for 81). Mumbai 210 for 5 (A Tare 67, H Shah batting 46, S Yadav batting 49; V Aaron 2 for 28, S Nadeem 2 for 64).