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    Ranji Trophy SFs: Didn't want toss to decide outcome, says Agarkar

    The Mumbai captain praised his pace-bowling duo of Dhawal Kulkarni and Shardul Thakur for bowling their hearts out on a flat Palam wicket.

    New Delhi: Mumbai skipper Ajit Agarkar on Monday said that his team was slightly worried when inclement weather and a damp pitched robbed two days of play during the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Services at Palam.

    "Of course, we didn't want the outcome to be decided by the toss so the team was a tad uptight when the rain didn't any play happen for two consecutive days. We were in a good position at 380 for 6 so knew that we could outclass Services,” said the former India allrounder who top-scored with 145 in Mumbai’s innings of 454 for 8.

    When quizzed whether there had been any jitters in the Mumbai camp when Yashpal Singh and Soumya Swain were going strong, the 35-year-old asserted that they were confident of bowling out Services. Agarkar heaped praise on his fast bowlers Dhawal Kulkarni and Shardul Thakur for bowling their hearts out on a wicket which had become flat. "Our bowlers had beaten Yashpal and Swain on Sunday several times so we knew that we've the artillery to bowl Services out on the extended sixth day. It was a matter of just one wicket. Though the wicket had become flat on the last two days due to a lot of rolling of the wicket, Dhawal and Shardul showed a lot of gusto and bowled their heart out. They extracted more purchase out of the wicket than was available."

    Agarkar is looking forward to the final against Saurashtra but refused to underestimate the opponent. "I have played six Ranji Trophy finals and Mumbai have won all of them. I am excited about the final and would like to add another to the tally. Saurashtra are a very good team even without Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja. They routed Punjab, which had performed brilliantly in the tournament, in the semi-final so there's no way we can take them lightly. They have a string of resourceful cricketers and it'll be an exciting contest between two very good teams."

    Regarding the availability of Rohit Sharma for the final, Agarkar was uncertain considering the Mumbai batsman is part of the Indian squad for the last two ODIs against England on January 23 and 27. "If the Indian camp and management wanted to release Rohit, they would have done that for the semi-final. He's currently in the Indian squad so I am not sure whether he'll be released for the final,” he said.

    Mumbai advanced to the final on the basis of a first-innings lead over Services as they dismissed the hosts for 240. The match was marred by bad weather and no play happened on the third and fourth days. Play had to be extended to the sixth day because the first innings of both the teams remained uncompleted.