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For Bhajji, Ranji is practice

Mumbai: A revamped Mumbai, with regular captain Ajit Agarkar back after missing last three games due to injury, will take on high-flying Punjab, in a Group A league tie of the Ranji Trophy, at the Wankhede, from Saturday.

But the entire focus will be on the return of Punjab captain Harbhajan Singh, who has been released by the Indian management so that he can do his Ranji duties.

Harbhajan would be fired up to get back to his best and ensure a berth in the playing XI for the fourth Test of the India-England series, to be held in Nagpur, commencing two days after the scheduled end of the Ranji game. “I just wanted to come back and play some games because it is important to be in touch. In Calcutta, the sun sets pretty quickly, by 4pm... It gets really dark and you don’t get any practice by sitting out,” he said.

“So it’s good to be playing Ranji and bowling lots of overs before I go back and, hopefully, join the (Indian) team in Nagpur... It would be good to bowl a few overs and get a few wickets and score some runs, hopefully, and get back into the side and play the next Test matches,” he told reporters.

Punjab, on a roll this season by winning four games out of five and certain to make the grade, would also be keen to beat the 39-time champions in their own den after losing to Mumbai by nine wickets in their previous match here.

But all their resounding victories have been recorded in their backyard at the Mohali stadium, and their only away game — against Railways, in Bhubaneswar — had ended in a draw.