New Delhi: Mumbai bowlers, led by Dhawal Kulkarni, ran riot on Monday and skittled Services for 240 to take the first innings lead of 214 runs and advance to the Ranji Trophy final for the record 44th time. Resuming from their overnight score of 164 for 3, the hosts capitulated and lost their last seven wickets for just 54 runs.
Soumya Swain and Yashpal Singh started the day well by striking a few boundaries. Yashpal played a backfoot punch off Ajit Agarkar for three runs on the third ball of the day and crashed him through cover in his next over to reach his half-century and bring up a 100-run stand for the fourth wicket. He played an exquisite square drive off Abhsihek Nayar and looked in complete control. The left-hander Swain guided Shardul Thakur through gully to notch up his first boundary of the day and thwarted Mumbai bowlers in the first half an hour of the play.
Thakur broke the stand by dismissing Yashpal in the eighth over of the day. The ball pitched on good length and nipped away as Yashpal pressed forward and looked to play straight. There was a hint of extra bounce and the ball induced an outside edge which went straight to wicketkeeper Aditya Tare. Yashpal's wicket instigated Services's slide. Swain was next to go when he played back to the left-arm spinner Vishal Dhabolkar as the ball bounced on him and took an outside edge which was duly grabbed by Wasim Jaffer at first slip. He top-scored with 74 runs and blasted eight boundaries.
Rajat Paliwal and Sarabjeet Singh hung in for some time but not for long. Paliwal was castled by Kulkarni as he tried to dab the ball but played on. Sarabjeet scored 2 off first 45 balls before hitting his first boundary but he perished playing a rash shot outside the off stump and was caught behind for 11. Meanwhile, Avishek Sinha smashed Dabholkar for a couple of boundaries in an over through the cover region.
Mumbai took the new balls after 83 overs and Kulkarni polished off the tailenders in a jiffy. Suraj Yadav (3) was caught behind, Shahbaz Nazar was caught at short midwicket by Nayar for a duck and Sinha was the last batsman to bite the dust. He slashed hard outside the off stump and only managed to give a simple catch to wicketkeeper as Kulkarni bagged his 10th five-wicket haul.
Agarkar was declared Man of the Match for his fine century. Mumbai had piled up 454 for 8 in their first innings, riding on hundreds by Agarkar and Tare, in a rain-interrupted match in which two days of play was abandoned due to inclement weather and wet pitch.
Mumbai will play Saurashtra, who have reached the final for the first time, in the Ranji Trophy final and look to win their 40th title.