NEW DELHI: Man of the Match Ajit Agarkar is in his sixth Ranji Trophy final, having won five of them and with a shot at half-a-dozen titles when Mumbai take on Saurashtra from January 26. The 35-year-old said Mumbai were relieved that their semifinal against Services at the Palam Sports Complex here was not decided by a coin toss.
After rain led to the loss of two full days of play, there was a chance that the winner would be identified by the spin of a coin. But Mumbai shot our Services in quick time on the sixth morning to storm into their 44th title round.
“We were slightly worried when there was no play for consecutive days. We were in a good position at 380 for 6 so we knew that we can outclass Services if the weather allowed.”
Mumbai have a bad record in coin tosses, having lost two of two in First Class cricket, while Services have won three of three. But Dhawal Kulkarni (5-33) ensured that the 39-time Ranji champs did not have to endure any such vagary again, despite batsmen Sowmya Ranjan Swain and veteran Yashpal Sharma looking good to build on their overnight scores.
“Our bowlers had beaten Yashpal and Swain on Sunday several times so we knew that we had the firepower to bowl Services out on the extended sixth day. It was a matter of just one wicket.
Though the pitch had become flat due to a lot of rolling, Dhawal and Shardul Thakur bowled their heart out.”
Agarkar went wicket-less in the match, but made it count with an aggressive 145. His 246-run seventh-wicket partnership with wicket-keeper Aditya Tare proved to be the gamechanger. The Mumbai skipper said his team would not under-estimate Saurashtra, whom they meet in the final.
“I have played in six Ranji Trophy finals and Mumbai have won all of them. I would like to add another to the tally. Saurashtra are a very good team even without Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja. They routed Punjab, who had performed brilliantly in the tournament, in the semi-final so there's no way we can take them lightly. They have a string of resourceful cricketers and it'll be an exciting contest between two very good teams."
Agarkar said he wasn’t sure about Rohit Sharma’s availability for the final.
“If the Indian management wanted to release Rohit, they would have done that for the semi-final.
He's currently in the Indian squad so I am not sure whether he'll be released for the final.”
Saurashtra too may miss Pujara's services in a key game if he continues to be on drinks duty for India.
Not sure of Rohit's availability: Agarkar
Mumbai's Sharma and Saurashtra's Pujara may miss the Ranji final if they continue to be on the bench for India.By Kunal Diwan | Yahoo! Cricket – Mon 21 Jan, 2013 6:17 PM IST
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