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Rayadu's knock in vain as Mumbai reach Ranji Trophy semi-final

Ambati Rayudu’s fighting innings against Mumbai went in vain yesterday after the right-hander was stranded 11 runs short of his century. Battling viral infection Rayudu, who was off the field for the most of Tuesday, ran out of partners and was unbeaten on 89 as Baroda folded up for 271, 374 runs behind Mumbai’s first innings score of 645-9 declared.

Debutant left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar, who got his Mumbai cap from the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, was the pick of the bowlers, claiming three for 88.

Mumbai, who are through to the semi-final and face Services, could well have forced Baroda to follow-on, but skipper Ajit Agarkar decided to give his boys a break. Mumbai were 171-1 in their second dig with Hiken Shah batting on 65 and Kaustubh Pawar on 70 on the penultimate day of the Ranji Trophy quarter-final. The hosts now lead Baroda by 575.

9000-plus for Jaffer
The match has become a mere formality now as Mumbai are in no mood to declare. Wasim Jaffer, who is now just 97 runs away from reclaiming the record of highest Ranji Trophy run-scorer, was the only wicket Mumbai lost yesterday when he was adjudged leg-before to Rayudu for 33. Yesterday, the ex-India opener became only the second cricketer after former teammate Amol Muzumdar to score 9000-plus runs in the Ranji Trophy.

Rayudu is a familiar face at the Wankhede Stadium because of his Mumbai Indians connection in the Indian Premier League. Familiar with the conditions here, Rayudu put it to good use as he batted with ease while his other teammates struggled. “Yes I knew the conditions here well, so that helped me. But our batsmen lacked application. You can score runs on this wicket once you stay on the wicket for a bit longer,” he said.

Meanwhile, this season’s Ranji Trophy is being played in a new format advocated by the Sourav Ganguly-led technical committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). However, as the match heads towards a stalemate on the final day today, there are fresh concerns of keeping interests alive.

Former India spinner Bishan Singh Bedi took the Twitter to express his concern. “Ranji format stagnating — is anybody bothered?” he asked.

Former India batsman Amay Khurasiya, who is on commentary duty here, said: “It is important to give some incentive to the teams in a knockout situation.

Teams that win outright should be given a chance to choose their opponents. This may spice up the contest a bit,” he said.¬†

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