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Mumbai earn a final berth

New Delhi: Services had to bat out an entire day to force a spin of the coin which would decide Saurashtra’s opponents in the Ranji Trophy final. But they could hardly put up any resistance on Monday, the sixth day, of their semi-final clash against Mumbai, at the Palam ground.

Mumbai, the 39-time champions, thus made their 44th entry into the Ranji final, which would be played at the Wankhede. The match was decided on the basis of the first innings lead as chasing a Mumbai’s of 454 for eight declared, Services, who were 164 for three overnight, folded up for 240 in 34.4 overs.

While the home team batsmen struggled to get their acts together, medium pacer Dhawal Kulkarni emerged the most successful bowler with five wickets for 33 runs. Any hopes of Services taking the fight to the rival camp collapsed with the fall of overnight batsmen Yashpal Singh (58) and skipper Soumya Ranjan Swain (74). Once they departed, the rest of the batsmen were dismissed quickly.

Mumbai captain Ajit Agarkar said he was relieved that the match, which was interrupted by rain, could be finished off quickly on the sixth morning. “We had too many interruptions… It was not always easy. The character of the wicket also changed as the match progressed… It got much flatter.”

Agarkar said he was never worried though Services fought back well in the last two sessions of the fifth day. “They batted well, but all we knew it was a matter of seven good balls on the final day. On the fifth day, we wanted one more wicket, but could not get it.”

The former India player informed that he had played in six Ranji Trophy finals for Mumbai and won all of them. “We are looking forward to win again, but Saurashtra are a good team.”