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Waiting for D-day

Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh have treaded contrasting paths to enter the final of the 75th Ranji Trophy. While Mumbai have won six of the nine matches wihout losing in the last two-and-a-half months, UP have just one win in eight matches, reports G Krishnan.

cricket Updated: Jan 11, 2009 23:48 IST
G Krishnan

Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh have treaded contrasting paths to enter the final of the 75th Ranji Trophy. While Mumbai have won six of the nine matches wihout losing in the last two-and-a-half months, UP have just one win in eight matches.

The performances in the last 10 weeks will mean nothing as only the next five days at Uppal will determine the champion. The needle is pointing towards Mumbai, and not just because they have Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan.

Even before the duo joined the side for the semifinal, Wasim Jaffer's men looked unstoppable. No team has even remotely looked like stopping Mumbai, apart from Saurashtra in the league phase.

On paper, a team that has hardly tasted outright success isn't expected to trouble a fellow-finalist with six wins. UP have been guided by players who have chipped in usefully when most required. It is this fighting quality that will help them keep their heads high.

The return of their leading bowler, R. P. Singh, who missed the quarterfinal and semifinal with a shoulder problem, should give UP the required boost.

The contest between Tendulkar and RP should generate interest as much as the one between Praveen Kumar, their most successful bowler, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (25 wickets), and the Mumbai top order, especially Jaffer and Ajinkya Rahane, who between them have a combined tally of 2235 runs.

UP, whose only Ranji triumph came in 2005-06, are up against the giants of Indian cricket, vying for their 38th crown. And they will find a gritty customer in Tendulkar, who is determined to take Mumbai to the top of the podium. When the maestro has his mind set on something, the whole world knows that nobody can stop him. Not even UP.