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Mumbai on course for final despite run-rate jitters

cricket Updated: Jan 06, 2009 22:05 IST
G Krishnan
G Krishnan
Hindustan Times
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Their superlative effort with the bat notwithstanding, Mumbai could yet see their journey coming to a grinding, painful halt at the threshold of the Ranji Trophy final if Saurashtra's first innings is not completed and the end of the fourth day.

In case they fail to bowl out Saurashtra, the team marching into the final would be decided on the basis of the overall net run rate, and their opponents boast of a better net run rate. (Saurashtra had a net run rate of 0.33 as against Mumbai's 0.03 going into this match)

However, the possibility of such an eventuality and run rate factor coming into play are now minimal with Saurashtra struggling at 247 for five, in reply to Mumbai's massive 637 for six. With all of Saurashtra's top five batsmen, including S Kotak (89, 211b, 11x4), back in the hut, Mumbai shouldn't struggle to get the remaining five wickets and sail into the final.

After batting on for full two days, Mumbai on Tuesday sensed the danger of Saurashtra playing out the remaining two days on a wicket that wasn't doing enough, and so shelved their plans of batting for an hour at least on Tuesday morning and posting a total of 700.

Their bowlers, led by Zaheer Khan, toiled the whole day and gave Mumbai a good platform. They, however, failed to run through the Saurashtra batting and this would be a cause for concern. In such conditions, an extra spinner would have proved handy, especially with Ramesh Powar not being too effective. For Saurashtra, Shah is the lone specialist batsman left and will count himself extremely lucky to be still batting on 45. He was let off at 8 when Vinayak Samant missed a stumping off Powar. On 15, Shah edged Dhawal Kulkarni to Samant, but umpire Amish Saheba adjudged it a no ball.

TV replays however showed that Kulkarni's foot was inside the popping crease. Shah got third life on 37 when Abhishek Nayar dropped him off Zaheer. Kotak too got a reprieve on 76 when Nayar floored a caught and bowled chance. Compounding their woes, Agarkar threw to the wrong end to run Shah out.