Mumbai reach Ranji final in hunt for 38th title

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Mumbai's 258-run first innings lead propelled them to the Ranji Trophy final after the drawn semifinal match against Saurashtra on Wednesday.

Updated: January 07, 2009 14:46 IST
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Off-spinner Ramesh Powar polished off the Saurashtra tail with his four-wicket haul but it was Mumbai's 258-run first innings lead which propelled them to the Ranji Trophy final after the drawn semifinal match on Wednesday.

In reply to Mumbai's mammoth first innings total of 637 for six declared, Saurashtra were all out in the first session on Wednesday for 379 and the first innings lead put Mumbai in the hunt for a record 38th Ranji title.

Mumbai will take on Uttar Pradesh in the final after Mohd Kaif's team made it to the summit clash, edging past Tamil Nadu by virtue of their first innings lead in the other drawn semifinal.

Mumbai didn't enforce the follow on and instead decided to have some batting practice. They lost Amol Mazumdar (9) before reaching 42 for one wicket when bad light dropped curtains on the proceedings with Rohit Sharma (30) and Abhishek Nayar (0) at the crease.

Resuming on 247 for five, Jaydev Shah (49) and Kamlesh Makvana (56 not out) had added just eight runs when the former chased an away going delivery from Dhawal Kulkarni to be caught at backward point and three balls later, Sagar Jogiyani (0) joined him in the pavilion leaving Saurashtra at 256 for seven.

Makvana, however, was not ready to give up and he found an able ally in Rakesh Dhurv (44), who was equally gritty.

Makvana notched up his second first-class fifty and along with Dhurv, cobbled a 103-run stand that kept Saurashtra in the fight.

Makvana showed tremendous grit and didn't flinch in the face of a bouncer barrage from Ajit Agarkar. Dhurv was harsh on anything short and didn't hesitate in punishing the loose balls.

Powar, however, had other ideas as he took the centrestage and tied the Saurashtra tail-enders in tangles.

The burly Team India discard trapped Dhurv to claim an important breakthrough that unhinged Saurashtra which could add another 20 runs before eventually folding.

Realising the futility of grafting, Sandeep Jobanputra (16) threw his bat at everything and hit three boundaries --two off Zaheer Khan -- before trying to sweep Powar and perishing in the slip.

Balakrishna Jadeja scored two before Powar snared him and that virtually dashed Saurashtra's hopes of making it to the final.

Powar finished with an impressive figure of 35-5-108-4.

In the end, it was Mumbai's massive first innings total of 637 for six declared, with captain Wasim Jaffer hitting 301 and Sachin Tendulkar contributing 122, which proved decisive.

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