Mumbai v Punjab, Semi-final, 3rd day March 20, 2005

Punjab on the verge of a famous win

Cricinfo staff

Punjab 126 and 226 for 4 (Mongia 49, Dharmani 47*) need 68 more runs to beat Mumbai 251 and 168 (Shetty 69)

Punjab's tenacious methods inched them close to a spot in the finals of the Ranji Trophy and they needed 68 more, with six wickets in hand, to upstage Mumbai, the defending champions, in their own backyard. All their top-order batsmen chipped in with gritty efforts as they ended the day on 226 for 4, in a comfortable position.

After collapsing for 126 in the first innings, the Punjab batsmen put together some vital partnerships this time. Ravneet Ricky and Reetinder Sodhi built a solid base while Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Mongia and Pankaj Dharmani ground out crucial 40s. Dharmani was unbeaten when stumps were drawn and found good support in Gaurav Gupta, who was batting on 34.

Earlier Mumbai had managed to stretch their lead to 294 thanks to Nishit Shetty's superb 69. He added 75 with Nilesh Kulkarni, the No. 10, and in hindsight the game would have been over on the third day itself if that partnership hadn't prospered.

Mumbai have shown tremendous resilience and produced moments of magic over the last three years. However, this revitilised Punjab team possesses the big-match players to ensure against such minor miracles. Either way, it promises to be an enthralling first hour tomorrow.