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Five-star Kulkarni wrecks Services

Dhawal Kulkarni ensured he made a noticeable contribution in Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy campaign. The lanky medium pacer lived up to his potential, claiming five wickets — his first in the season — against Services as 39-time champions Mumbai entered their 44th Ranji Trophy final yesterday. Mumbai will play the final (January 26 to 30) at the Wankhede Stadium against Saurashtra.


Mumbai’s Dhawal Kulkarni (second from left) celebrates a wicket with teammates at the Palam Air Force Ground in New Delhi yesterday. PIC/Rajeev Tyagi

Mumbai had to get seven wickets before Services tried to chase down Mumbai’s first innings score of 454-8 declared when they came out to bat on the reserve sixth day yesterday. However, as it turned out, Mumbai steamrolled Services, who were dismissed for 240 at the Palam Air Force Ground, Delhi.

It was a shocking display from Services batsmen, who showed some resistance on the fifth day. Once they lost their pillars, Yashpal Singh (58) and stand-in skipper Soumya Ranjan Swain (74) — earlier in the day, it was Mumbai all the way. If Services had survived the day, the outcome would have depended on the spin of coin.

Services’ fate was sealed when Shardul Thakur (3-62) broke the dangerous-looking 114-run fourth wicket stand between Yashpal and Swain.

Kulkarni ensured that Services’ last recognised pair of Sarabjit Singh and Rajat Paliwal did not trouble Mumbai much. He first cleaned up Paliwal after an inside edge crashed into his stumps. Thakur then claimed the wicket of Sarabjit. He wasted little time to see off the tailenders (Avishek Sinha, Suraj Yadav and Shadab Nazar) to finish with figures of five for 33 in 21.4 overs.

Kulkarni revealed that a separate training session with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, who is also his Mumbai Indians teammate, worked wonders for him. “I was bowling well this season… my rhythm was good, but I wasn’t getting as many wickets as I expected.

“Inputs from Tendulkar and Ajit (Agarkar) helped a lot. I had a net session with Tendulkar before the match. I discussed with him about what was happening. He shared his experience and his inputs helped me. That is the advantage of having senior players in the team. There is so much to learn from them,” an elated Kulkarni told MiD DAY from Delhi.

“Personally, it is very important for me as I registered my first five-wicket haul of the season. It came at a perfect time because a semi-final is a big game and nothing better than that stage to give your best performance,” he added.

There was a possibility that the match would be decided on the spin of coin after two days of play were wasted due to bad weather and playing conditions.

But Mumbai were not afraid. “We were not scared. We had 120 overs to bowl to them and we were confident of bowling them out. We are now looking forward to the final and will hopefully win the title¬†for the 40th time,” Kulkarni signed off.

Players will not be released for Ranji final
The Indian team management will not release Mumbai’s Rohit Sharma and Saurashtra’s Cheteshwar Pujara for the Ranji Trophy final to be played from January 26 to 30 at the Wankhede Stadium. “None among the trio of Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and Rohit Sharma will be released for the Ranji Trophy final. They will be with the Indian team for the fourth and fifth one-dayers at Mohali and Dharamsala, respectively,” a senior BCCI official was quoted as saying by PTI.¬†

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