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Ranji, Mumbai’s forte

- Kulkarni, Agarkar star in an innings and 125-run victory
Sachin Tendulkar and Ajit Agarkar, on Monday

Mumbai: A dominant Mumbai lifted their 40th Ranji Trophy title after captain Ajit Agarkar and Dhawal Kulkarni combined to wreck Saurashtra for an innings and 125-run victory, in the five-day final that ended inside three days, at the Wankhede, on Monday.

Saurashtra, trailing the home team by 207 runs in the first innings, were shot out for a pathetic 82 in less than three hours.

Mumbai, thus, clinched their 40th national title in 44 appearances in the summit contest and their first after two blank seasons.

Agarkar snapped up four wickets for 15 runs while his younger teammate, Kulkarni, grabbed five for 32.

The home team pace duo finished off the lop-sided contest with their fiery first spells to help Mumbai regain the crown after a gap of two seasons.

The other wicket-taker for Mumbai was Abhishek Nayar (one for 3).

Mumbai also earned the right to take on the Rest of India in the Irani Cup match, which is to be held at the same venue here, from February 6-10. The home team also won Rs 2 crore as the prize money while Saurashtra got Rs 1 crore.

The visiting team’s batsmen showed a distinct lack of application and surrendered on a wicket that provided good pace, bounce and prodigious movement to the swing bowlers even on Day III.

They capitulated for the second time in the match after having been bowled out for 148 in 75.3 overs in the first innings on Day I, to which Mumbai had replied with 355.

The highest score in a dismal batting display for Saurashtra was 22 off 35 balls by Dharmendra Jadeja.

Saurya Sanandiya (16) was the only other player to reach double figures after staying for more than an hour at the crease. Lower-order batsman Jaydev Unadkat, too, lasted more than an hour — 69 minutes — but managed just 9 runs.

Among the top seven batsmen dismissed, none reached double figures and three of them — openers Sitanshu Kotak, Sagar Jogiyani and first innings top scorer Arpit Vasavada — failed to score.

Rahul Dave (5), captain Jaydev Shah (6), Sheldon Jackson (9) and Kamlesh Makwana (7) were the other top-order batsmen to depart with single digit scores.

Agarkar took three for 15 in a fiery first spell of eight overs. Kulkarni claimed as many for the same number of runs in his opening spell of nine overs.

Kulkarni came back to grab the wicket of Sanandiya to leave Saurashtra on the brink of defeat at 53 for eight.

The innings was prolonged by Unadkat and Jadeja, who put on 29 runs, before Agarkar returned for his second spell to snap the ninth wicket partnership.

Fittingly, Kulkarni came back for his third spell and ended the match by having Jadeja caught behind by Tare, who grabbed his fourth victim of the innings.

Wasim Jaffer was decalred the Man of the Match for his 1st innings century.