CRICKET / The 39-time champion makes it to 44th final

Mumbai needed just one extended session on the sixth day to break the resistance of Services for the decisive first innings lead on way to the Ranji Trophy final.

This rain-hit semifinal, extended to the sixth day to decide the finalist on the basis of first innings lead, ended at the Palam ground when Services was bowled out for 240 in its first innings in reply to Mumbai’s 454 for eight declared.

Dhawal Kulkarni claimed four of the seven wickets to fall on this day and finished with five for 33. Fellow medium-pacer Shardul Thakur, who provided the breakthrough by getting rid of dangerman Yashpal Singh to trigger off a dramatic collapse, ended with three wickets.

Wicketkeeper Aditya Tare, who scored a century on the second day, pouched four catches today to play his part to perfection.

The 214-run lead paved the way for Mumbai’s 44th entry into the final.

The 39-time champion will host Saurashtra in the title-clash beginning on January 26. Resuming the day at 164 for three, Services began cautiously with skipper Soumya Ranjan Swain and Yashpal taking their time to raise the fourth-wicket stand to 114 runs.

Batting collapse

Services was looking to play session-by-session with more emphasis on keeping wickets intact. But, Yashpal, who promised much after reaching his 21st half-century in the championship, faltered in the eighth over to be caught behind.

In fact, the procession continued with Services losing seven wickets between the 65th and 92nd overs for just 54 runs.

Swain, who reached 1,000 runs in Ranji Trophy during the course of his stubborn innings of 74, was caught at slip off left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar.

This wicket brightened Mumbai’s hopes and when Kulkarni removed in-form Rajat Paliwal, who played on, the end appeared in sight.

Soon thereafter, Thakur had veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Sarabjit Singh caught behind and Kulkarni polished off the tail, striking once in each of his last three overs.

The scores: Mumbai—1st innings: 454 for eight decl.

Services—1st innings: N. Verma lbw b Kulkarni 13, P. Desai b Chavan 4, A. Gupta c Pawar b Thakur 31, S. Swain c Jaffer b Dabholkar 74, Yashpal Singh c Tare b Thakur 58, R. Paliwal b Kulkarni 11, Sarabjit Singh c Tare b Thakur 11, A. Sinha b Tare b Kulkarni 22, S. Yadav c Tare b Kulkarni 3, S. Nazar c Nayar b Kulkarni 0, Nishan Singh (not out) 0; Extras: (b-4, lb-4, w-3, nb-2):13; Total (in 91.4 overs): 240.

Fall of wickets: 1-14, 2-22, 3-72, 4-186, 5-195, 6-203, 7-227, 8-230, 9-235.

Mumbai bowling: A. Agarkar 13-4-39-0, D. Kulkarni 21.4-8-33-5, V. Dabholkar 19-6-51-1, A. Chavan 12-4-33-1, S. Thakur 21-1-62-3, A. Nayar 5-0-14-0.

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