Services v Mumbai, Ranji Trophy 2012-13 semi-final, Day 6 January 21, 2013

Mumbai demolish Services to enter 44th Ranji final


Mumbai 454 for 8 dec. (Agarkar 145, Tare 120, Nayar 70, Tendulkar 56) drew with Services 240 (Swain 74, Yashpal 58, Kulkarni 5-33, Thakur 3-68)

Mumbai entered their 44th Ranji Trophy final, doing the clinical business that was expected of them, despite hurdles of inclement weather and wet wickets in their semi-final against Services. In an extended session of an extra sixth day at the Air Force Station Palam ground, they dismissed Services for 240 and progressed into the final on first-innings lead.

Dhawal Kulkarni picked up five wickets, which included a precise demolition of the lower order with figures of 4 for 15 on the final morning when the Services batting came undone. They lost their last seven wickets for 54 runs in 27.1 overs, extending the play shortly into the lunch break. For Services, who finished this Ranji season with results well beyond expectations, it was a particularly disappointing morning. "It's not losing that matters," said a sombre Services manager Deepak Bhaskar, "it was the manner of how we lost." Once their overnight batsmen were gone, Services lost, well, very quickly.

For Mumbai, the result brought with it relief as a hailstorm had rendered the match beyond an outright result and the weather had complicated the simplicity of trying to set up the first-innings lead. The semi-final witnessed late starts, a hailstorm that led to a sopping wet wicket and weak light that kept cutting off scheduled hours. Monday was the first of the six days in which play started on time and Mumbai made it count.

Mumbai captain Ajit Agarkar, who was named the Man of the Match, said, "You don't want it to end that way. [through a toss]. We were hoping to get 100-120 overs to bowl at Services but we were lucky to get more than that."

Mumbai struck early when they broke the 114-run partnership of the overnight batsmen Soumya Swain and Yashpal Singh, just over half an hour into the morning. The Mumbai attack had concentrated on Yashpal's off-side, in the belief that he would nick one to the cordon behind him. Trying to defend one from Shardul Thakur that moved away, Yashpal was out for 58, caught behind by Aditya Tare.

Left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar got the old ball to jump, pushed Swain on the back foot and had him caught by first slip Wasim Jaffer in his second over of the morning. Rajat Paliwal, Services' most consistent batsman all season, then played on to Kulkarni. His defensive dab left enough space between bat and pad for the ball to rattle the stumps. The new ball was just over four overs away and Services were 203 for 6.

Once it was taken, Kulkarni and Thakur went after the tail with menace and precision, three of the last four wickets caught behind by Tare. Agarkar said his medium-pacers had "bowled their hearts out" on a wicket that had actually eased up and rid itself off the vagaries of the first two days.

The cruelty of the situation will not be lost on Services who had the best of the wicket to play on, having being rolled diligently for two days following the hailstorm and heavy showers late Friday and early Saturday. Bhaskar said the Services batsmen had let themselves down. "We wanted to bat through the day and were capable of doing so," he said, adding that the Uttar Pradesh bowling that the Services batsmen had overcome contained more "variety" than Mumbai. That would no doubt elicit a snarl out of the Mumbai pacemen, who wrapped up the Services first innings in less than 35 overs on Monday. Mumbai's big picture plan involved few words and all deeds, Agarkar saying, "It had been a question of bowling seven good balls today."

The moment the last wicket fell, Avishek Sinha's, after a defiant 22 which lasted over an hour, play was called off. Both sets of players were given a brief talk by the match referee B Kalyanasundaram, who announced the reasons for giving the Man of the Match to Agarkar and offered appreciation and applause for the ground staff to enable a sufficient portion of play to push this game into a result beyond the toss.

As the Services management had planned, even while trying to consider Sachin Tendulkar "just a player", Tendulkar came into their dressing room after the match and five minutes turned to 15. Tendulkar discussed preparation and application and approach, and of all he said, strike bowler Suraj Yadav remembered this one: "You will meet with difficulties of all types from all directions - only you can find and you have to find your way out of them." Yashpal Singh's mind was drawn to advice about attitude: for success in any field comes with immersing yourself in it to a degree of extreme involvement and madness.

It marked an end to the Services campaign this season which began as early as May with an Inter-Services tournament that was brought forward by a few months. It helped them pick a team well in time for the start of the Ranji season. Services will be left dealing with mixed feelings: having earned a few stripes for their effort and, from this semi-final, a few emotional wounds.

Mumbai now move onto a home final, with Agarkar himself having played and won six. The last time Mumbai lost a Ranji Trophy final, they were still called Bombay when Haryana beat them in 1990-91. If there are calls to induct Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja into the Saurashtra squad, Mumbai believes there is good reason to call up Rohit Sharma and if available, Ajinkya Rahane too.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Abinash on January 21, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    Still I feel, Agarkar is one of the best Bowling All Rounders India has ever produced. If I am not wrong, his entry to international arena has been phenomenal, fastest 50 wkts. He is a kindaa bowler who will take 3-4 wkts giving away some 50-55 runs in his 10 ovrs quota, although couple of the wkts might of the tail enders. A superb striker of the cricket ball !!! His constant injury and a disappointing World Cup campaign resulted in him being dropped for the Bangladesh series that followed.

    Hope this man will gift Mumbai the trophy.

  • Deepak on January 21, 2013, 14:38 GMT

    @satish619chandar - That's because Saurashtra had a home semifinal whereas Mumbai had an away semifinal. It has nothing to do with points or outright wins.

  • mohan on January 21, 2013, 14:18 GMT

    When i was young around 10 15 years ago, since India's dosmetic season and international season were separate almost all Indian international players used to play ranji trophy and people used to look forward for it anxiously. As the popularity of cricket increased due to heavy international fixtures the Indian players started playing more international matches than domestic matches and due to injuries of players the Indian international players could not play domestic matches

  • Paritosh on January 21, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    Hats off to Agarkar. He showed how good he can lead a side and hopefully he can win yet another Ranji for Mumbai.

  • pradeep on January 21, 2013, 13:15 GMT

    congratulations to Agarkar and his teams for this great performance. Gud luck and mumbai must give their all against Saurashtra and win the cup 40th time.........

  • Ramakrishnan on January 21, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    Hope the final will be played in a neutral venue on a sporting pitch. Both teams have national players in their ranks and we would like to see a good,well contested final. Good luck to both the sides.

  • Rahul on January 21, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    Mumbai will host because last time these two teams played each other, the match was played on the home gorund of the Saurashtra. Ao this time it will be played on home ground of Mumbai. The domestic season & international matches for India should not clash. BCCI needs to arrange the domestic season around the internatioanal calendar or vice versa, so that all major players are available for the Ranji games.

  • Satish on January 21, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    Mumbai move to home final? I read somewhere that the team who has outright win in the semi finals will have home game. Someone correct me if wrong and on what basis Mumbai gets the home finals? Both teams are equal in points but Saurashtra leads Mumbai in points table based on number of wins. With the ODI series going on, i seriously hope the selectors release Pujara, Rohit and Jadeja to play in the finals if the team wins the ODI series in the fourth game. It would make it a exciting finale with all the best players available to play in it..

  • shripad on January 21, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    And that was quick on the final day. Well done Mumbai. Tough luck for Services, they did themselves proud by reaching semis this time around, but in the end there was huge difference in quality between Mumbai and Services camp. Expecting Services to pull out a lead was asking too much to begin with, but Kulkarni just demolished them in emphatic fashion. Saurashtra vs Mumbai should be interesting. I hope India wins the 4th ODI and wrap up England series so the players from international side are released to play in final of Ranji Trophy. This mean full strength side for both with some star international cricketers filling both sides. And it will give Saurashtra real chance to challenge Mumbai with Jadeja and Pujara in team. Without these two I am afraid they dont stand chance against even depleted Mumbai.

  • Sachin on January 21, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    Congratulations team Mumbai, now try and go on to win the 40th Ranji trophy title. Best of luck guys.

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