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Mumbai and Maharashtra emerge as the favourites for grabbing the top two spots for the national knockout tournament, reports Amol Karhadkar.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2007 05:42 IST

With six out of the 10 matches played in the ongoing Ramakant Desai Trophy (West Zone) league cricket tournament, Mumbai and Maharashtra have emerged as the favourites for grabbing the top two spots and qualifying for the national knockout tournament.

Mumbai, who play Maharashtra in their last league encounter at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday, are leading the points table with 13 points from three matches.

After claiming four points each from their victories against Baroda and Gujarat, the Ranji Trophy champions earned five, including the bonus point, against Saurashtra on Wednesday.

And with three wins from as many games, the domestic giants are almost assured of a place in the knockouts. However, coach Pravin Amre wasn't taking the Maharashtra game lightly.

"We can't say that we are safely through now since both Maharashtra and Baroda have played a game less than us," Amre told the Hindustan Times on Thursday.

Maharashtra, on the other hand, have won both their matches with a bonus point so far. They have 10 points from two matches so far - six more than Baroda who are placed third. So, unless they lose both their remaining matches and concede a bonus in at least one of them, the Sairaj Bahutule-led side will also go through.

Maharashtra, on the other hand, are keen to avenge their Ranji Trophy loss and seal their place in the next phase by overcoming Mumbai.

"The league is still open," Maharashtra coach Chandrakant Pandit said. "But we would like to book our berth in the next phase with a win against Mumbai."

If Maharashtra defeats Mumbai on Saturday, it would be bad news for Baroda. Baroda, with four points from two matches, have to win both their remaining matches, against Saurashtra on Saturday and Maharashtra on Monday, in order to be in the race.

"We are just looking forward to winning tomorrow's game," Baroda coach Ashok Mankad said. "And hope Mumbai beat Maharashtra so that we have a chance of qualification with a victory in the last game."

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First Published: Feb 16, 2007 05:42 IST