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Saurashtra set to take on Mumbai

G. Viswanath
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Cricket / The latter has not lost a title match in the last 21 years

GEARING UP:Saurashtra’s Aarpit Vasavada (left) and Vishal Joshi during a practice session at the Wankhede Stadium on the eve of the Ranji Trophy final against Mumbai on Friday.— Photo: Vivek Bendre
GEARING UP:Saurashtra’s Aarpit Vasavada (left) and Vishal Joshi during a practice session at the Wankhede Stadium on the eve of the Ranji Trophy final against Mumbai on Friday.— Photo: Vivek Bendre

The Ranji Trophy final between Mumbai and Saurashtra is all set to begin here on Saturday. Mumbai is aiming for its 40th title and Saurashtra a historic first.

While Mumbai players had a light workout at the Wankhede Stadium, some of the Saurashtra players chose to sweat it out, which did not go down well with manager Arjun Singh Rana.

Rana asked Sitanshu Kotak, Sagar Jogiyani, Aarpit Vasavada and assistant coach Hitesh Goswami to wind up their practice session and retreat to the dressing room.

Extraordinary season

It has been an extraordinary season for Saurashtra with Ravindra Jadeja scoring two triple centuries and taking 24 wickets to force his way into the Indian team and Cheteshwar Pujara also hitting a triple century against Karnataka in the quarterfinals.

Saurashtra has also discovered the talent of batsmen Sheldon Jackson and Vasavada. The unsung Jogiyani and Kamlesh Makwana too chipped in with useful runs and skipper Jaydev Shah led the team efficiently. Kotak too asserted his class.

After an up-and-down league phase, Saurashtra defeated Karnataka in the quarterfinals and crushed an in-form Punjab in the semifinals. Supervised by coach Debu Mitra the players went through their routine practice session for nearly four hours on Thursday and repeated it on Friday morning.

In Ranji Trophy title matches, Mumbai has found opponents such as Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh aggressive and ready for a scrap.

The faithful who turn up at the Wankhede Stadium still recall the fascinating duel between Mumbai (then Bombay) and Haryana in the 1990-91 final when Sachin Tendulkar stunned Kapil Dev with an off-driven flat six and scored a splendid 96 and Dilip Vengsarkar made a valiant unbeaten 139.

Advantage Mumbai

Haryana scraped past the host by a mere two runs to win the title for the first time. Mumbai has not lost a title match in the last 21 years with Wasim Jaffer figuring in seven winning finals and skipper Ajit Agarkar in six winning finals.

After battling it out with close to half a dozen teams in the national championship Mumbai will find the Saurashtra team a determined lot.

Mumbai has a senior pro in Tendulkar and a first time captain in Ajit Agarkar to show the way for youngsters such as Aditya Tare, Shardul Thakur and Vishal Dabholkar.

The teams (from):

Mumbai: Ajit Agarkar (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Jaffer, Suryakumar Yadav, Dhaval Kulkarni, Kaustubh Pawar, Abhishek Nayar, Hiken Shah, Aditya Tare (wk), Ankit Chavan, Nikhil Patil (Jr.), Javed Khan, Sushant Marathe, Shardul Thakur, Vishal Dabholkar.

Saurashtra: Jaydev Shah (captain), Sitanshu Kotak, Sagar Jogiyani, Rahul Dave, Sheldon Jackson, Aarpit Vasavada, Kamlesh Makwana, Siddharth Trivedi, Jaydev Unadkat, Vishal Joshi, Sandeep Maniar, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Saurya Sanandiya, Chirag Pathak, Harsha Anghan.

Umpires: K. Hariharan and O. Nandan: Third umpire: Virender Sharma; Match Referee: Col. Chinmaya Sharma.   

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