Mumbai enter final on lead in Cuttack run fest
Madhya Pradesh 227 (Ojha 79, Sandhu 5-43) and 361 for 5 (Ojha 113, Harpreet 105) drew with Mumbai 371 (Iyer 90, Tare 68, Sakhure 5-137) and 426 (Suryakumar 115, Tare 109, Harpreet 3-55)
Mumbai made it to the Ranji Trophy final for the first time in three seasons, but were denied an outright win courtesy centuries from Naman Ojha (113) and Harpreet Singh (105). Madhya Pradesh, who were set an improbable 571 in little over four sessions, ended on 361 for 5 when both set of players shook hands to bring an end to a high-scoring clash at the DRIEMS ground in Cuttack.
MP started the fifth day at 99 for 2, with Mumbai having an opportunity to pocket full points. They had a wicket in the first hour when Aditya Shrivastava (68) was caught behind off Badre Alam, the pacer, to give them an opening. But it was a toil from there on as Ojha, who had the most runs this season without a century, brought up his 15th first-class ton during the course of a 159-run stand for the fourth wicket with Harpreet.
Ojha, who struck 13 fours and a six during his 185-ball vigil, fell to the part-time offspin of Suryakumar Yadav to once again lift Mumbai's hopes of running through the lower middle order. But Harpreet frustrated the bowlers and brought up his second century of the season shortly after the tea interval. He finished the season as the leading run-getter for the side with 750 runs in 15 innings.
With interest surrounding MP's second innings dying down soon after Harpreet's century, the match meandered to a close at the start of the mandatory overs, as Mumbai sealed their final berth on the back of two dominating displays with the bat. While Shreyas Iyer hit 90 and 58 in his two outings, Aditya Tare, the captain, who missed the quarterfinal with a thumb injury, and Suryakumar hit centuries in the second innings to build on a 144-run lead that was taken on the back of Balwinder Sadhu's five-wicket haul.
Mumbai will play Saurashtra, in what will be a repeat of the 2012-13 final, at the MCA Stadium in Pune starting on February 24.