Mumbai to take on Punjab

MUMBAI, MARCH 17. Mumbai will take on Punjab at home in a five-day Ranji Trophy semifinal from Friday. Punjab has been further bolstered by the release of Yuvraj Singh from his national duties. For Mumbai the good news is that for the first time in the season, it will have two proper seamers, in Ajit Agarkar and Avishkar Salvi, to share the new ball.

Chandrakant Pandit, the Mumbai coach, was reticent about naming his XI but talked about the weather.

After the team's last workout and a bit of batting and bowling sessions at the Wankhede, Pandit said, "The weather was fine until last week, but suddenly it changed and we all know that the typical Mumbai heat is upon us.''

There are two more seamers in Wilkin Mota and Usman Malvi, but it's more likely that skipper Sairaj Bahutule will put opt for off-spinner Ramesh Powar and left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni.

Since the first Test in the current India-Pakistan series was played at Mohali, the Punjab team too arrived here well in advance and played two friendly matches against the Cricket Club of India.

"We are a good side, but we had to get used to the conditions," said Dinesh Mongia, the captain of the visiting team. Mongia, who is looking forward to play a full season for Leicestershire, picked off-spinner Rajesh Sharma and Gaurav Gupta as players to look out for.

The teams (from): Mumbai: Sairaj Bahutule (capt.), Wasim Jaffer, Vinayak Mane, Vinit Indulkar, Amol Muzumdar, Nishit Shetty, Ajit Agarkar, Nilesh Kulkarni, Avishkar Salvi, Ramesh Powar, Vinayak Samant, Bhavin Thakar, Abhijeet Shetye, Wilkin Mota, Usman Malvi.

Punjab: Dinesh Mongia (capt.), R.S. Sodhi, Yuvraj Singh, Ravneet Ricky, Pankaj Dharmani, Gaurav Gupta, Gagandeep Singh, V.R.V. Singh, Amit Uniyal, Rajesh Sharma, Vineet Sharma, Munish Sharma, Ankur Kakkar, Sandeep Sanwal, Navdeep Singh, Chandan Madani.

Umpires: M.R. Subramaniyam and Balwant Sharma.

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