The result of this final league match at the Nerul’s DY Patil Stadium, hosting its maiden first-class game, will decide the fate of at least four teams — Gujarat (21 points), Madhya Pradesh (20 points), Mumbai (20 points) and Saurashtra (17 points) — all battling for the second and third spots.
From Group A, Punjab have already advanced to the knockouts after topping the chart with 32 points. The Parthiv Patel-led Gujarat team have to ensure that they get the first innings lead, and with it three points as that will ensure their progress to the knockout phase irrespective about other results in the group. If they fail to do so, their fate will depend on the Saurashtra vs Madhya Pradesh tie that takes place in Rajkot today. Mumbai’s task is cut out.
Ajit Agarkar’s men have to snatch first-innings lead to stay in the hunt for qualification. But if they don’t claim the first innings lead, there’s a good chance of Mumbai encountering a rare knock out punch in their otherwise decorated history. Just like much rests on the experienced shoulders of Zaheer Khan, who is smarting from his Test omission, Wasim Jaffer is expected to play a crucial role in helping Mumbai putting up a formidable total.
Though Mumbai put up a splendid show in their last encounter against Madhya Pradesh in Indore to snatch their first victory of the season with a seven-run win, Agarkar & Co will have to guard against Gujarat, who are on a roll after winning their last two games. In their last match, Gujarat stunned table-toppers Punjab by 37 runs in Valsad.
The Mumbai batters will have to watch out for slow left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhurv, who has grabbed the most number of wickets (35 in seven games). He was the wrecker-in-chief in Gujarat’s two outright victories apart from finishing with a 14-wicket haul against Rajasthan. He also claimed eight wickets in game against Punjab.