The humdinger at the Gangothri Glades ground witnessed an explosive finish. And the final act was greeted with a hush by a packed crowd.

Ajit Agarkar plucked a return catch from S. Aravind and sprinted in celebration. The resilient Mumbai had retained the Ranji Trophy with an incredible six-run win over a valiant Karnataka here on Thursday.

In pursuit of 338, Karnataka was dismissed for 331. It was Mumbai's 39th triumph in Ranji Trophy.

The side was seemingly down for the count with Karnataka racing along at 255 for three. Mumbai struck back, seldom losing belief. Agarkar, in the thick of things, emerged the hero with a five-wicket haul. He swung and seamed the ball, bowled with precision for most part.

Sadly, some of the gestures from the younger Mumbai cricketers as they danced and chanted at the end of it all were distinctly provocative. The fourth day was high on octane and drama. There was some inspired batting from Manish Pandey (144, 151b, 18x4, 1x6), an ordinary umpiring decision, the famous Mumbai resolve, and some incisive pace bowling with the second new ball.

Swift of feet and brave of heart, Pandey delighted even as Ganesh Satish (75, 215b, 9x4) held firm. Pandey's bat-speed and the ability to innovate and create was hurting Mumbai.

Pandey took on Agarkar, slamming three boundaries early in the day – a pull and a sweet clip through mid-wicket were the pick – to provide Karnataka momentum.

The ebullient right-hander reached a spectacular century by swinging a short-ball from Salvi to the fence. Pandey continued to pick the length early and was quick with his response; the whiplash drives through the off-side and scorching flicks raced to the fence.

When off-spinner Ramesh Powar was introduced, he sashayed down to strike the bowler over mid-on. He waltzed again to dump Powar over the long-off fence.

There was no appreciable assistance for the spinners and it was quite simply the last fling of the dice by Jaffer when he introduced left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla.

Pandey departed, attempting a glide and edging to Jaffer at slip. Mumbai had achieved the breakthrough, ending a 209-run fourth wicket stand.

Karnataka soon lost the left-handed Amit Verma. Abdulla's delivery – down the leg-side – brushed the batsman's thigh but umpire Amish Sahiba upheld a caught-behind appeal.

Not much later, umpire S. Hazare responded favourably to Dhaval Kulkarni's shout after the paceman got one to nip back at Satish; the ball may have missed leg-stump.

The duel was tantalisingly poised with Karnataka 265 for six at lunch. Stuart Binny and Sunil Joshi batted positively to whittle the target but the second new ball taken in the 81st over – Karnataka needed 47 runs with four wickets left – held the key.

Kulkarni castled Binny with a lovely ball that swung away. And Joshi edged an Agarkar delivery angled across him to 'keeper Vinayak Samant. Vinay Kumar, with Aravind supporting him well, struck a few firm blows to bring Karnataka closer to victory before a Kulkarni off-cutter re-arranged his stumps.

An unexpected Aravind boundary, byes and a wide, brought Karnataka within striking distance as the tension built up. Karnataka and Aravind survived when Ajinkya Rahave put down a high catch at gully off Kulkarni. In the next over, Agarkar pouched a leading edge from Aravind.

Mumbai had emerged triumphant.

Scoreboard

Mumbai (Ist inngs) 233

Karnataka (Ist inngs) 130

Mumbai (IInd inngs) 234

Karnataka (IInd inngs): K.B. Pawan lbw b Agarkar 23, C. Gautam c

Jaffer b Agarkar 0, G. Satish lbw b Kulkarni 75, R. Uthappa c Samant b

Agarkar 4, M. Pandey c Jaffer b Abdulla 144, A. Verma c Samant b

Abdulla 2, S. Binny b Kulkarni 17, S. Joshi c Samant b Agarkar 16, R.

Vinay Kumar b Kulkarni 15, S. Aravind c & b Agarkar 10, A. Mithun (not

out) 1, Extras (b-9, lb-1, w-5, nb-9) 24, Total (all out in 88.4

overs) 331.

Fall of wkts: 1-1 (Gautam), 2-42 (Pawan), 3-46 (Uthappa), 4-255

(Pandey), 5-258 (Verma), 6-260 (Satish), 7-296 (Binny), 8-303 (Joshi),

9-322 (Vinay Kumar).

Mumbai bowling: Agarkar 22.4-6-81-5, Kulkarni 21-3-80-3, Salvi

15-3-66-0, Nayar 11-4-19-0, Powar 11-0-44-0, Abdulla 8-0-31-2.

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