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Young Mumbaikars ready for Baroda battle

Baroda seamers Irfan Pathan and Rakesh Patel will be raring to have a go at the Mumbai batsmen, reports Amol Karhadkar.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2007 20:25 IST

The last time Mumbai played Baroda in a Ranji Trophy tie was the 2002-03 semifinal. Riding on Ajit Agarkar and Sairaj Bahutule's fantastic performances with the ball, Mumbai had beaten Baroda in less than three days.

As Mumbai and Baroda lock horns in the semifinal which begins on Tuesday, the 36-time champions will hope to repeat the act. However, it won't be that easy. Five bowlers who played in that game will not be a part of the playing XI.

In-form left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni will be the only experienced bowler for Mumbai. And playing on a wicket that appears to be having something for bowlers, it certainly is going to be a tactical challenge for the Mumbai outfit.

"I can say from my personal experience that a five-day match is a different ball-game altogether," said captain Amol Muzumdar after rigorous nets.

"Time becomes an important factor. In a five-day match you can enforce things more than that in the four-day format."

Muzumdar, while hinting that Rajesh Verma and 17-year-old Iqbal Abdullah are set to replace Agarkar and Ramesh Powar in the playing XI, said batting again holds the key in this crunch encounter.

Irfan Pathan, desperate to regain his place in the Indian team, and Rakesh Patel, with 30 wickets in seven matches this season, will be raring to have a go at the Mumbai batsmen.

It will be interesting to see how youngsters like Sahil Kukreja, Hiken Shah and Rohit Sharma tackle big names like Pathan, Patel and left-arm spinner Rajesh Pawar.

Mumbai coach Pravin Amre, however, said he has asked his youngsters to face the ball and not the bowler. "It doesn't matter whom you are playing against," he said. "If you start thinking about names than the task gets more tougher."

After a disastrous start to the season, where they failed to garner a point in the first three matches, Mumbai have made a remarkable comeback, winning the next three games with a bonus point.

"We always wanted to be in the final and then take it from there on," Amre said. "It's an entirely different experience for a player to play a Ranji Trophy final.

First Published: Jan 23, 2007 00:05 IST