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Madhya Pradesh fightback ends as Mumbai enter final

Madhya Pradesh fightback ends as Mumbai enter final
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Mumbai made their first Ranji Trophy final in three seasons even though they were denied an outright win with fighting centuries from Madhya Pradesh wicket-keeper batsman Naman Ojha and Harpreet Singh on day five of the semifinal here on Wednesday.

Madhya Pradesh, who needed to chase a mammoth 571-run target in little more than four sessions, ended their second innings at 361 for five with the game ending in a draw and Mumbai entering the final on the basis of first innings lead.

They will meet Saurashtra in the final to be played in Pune from February 24.

Madhya Pradesh, starting the day at 99/2, went on to frustrate the Mumbai bowlers for 109 overs, putting a much improved effort than the first innings where they managed 227 to Mumbai’s 371.

Naman Ojha (113), who started the day on 14, ended up hitting his 15th first-class ton and the first this season. His 185 ball effort comprised 13 fours and a six. Ojha, who struck 13 fours and a six during his 185-ball vigil, fell to the part-time offspin of Suryakumar Yadav to once again lift Mumbai’s hopes of running through the lower middle order. 

He shared a 159-run stand with Harpreet, who brought up his second century of the season and ended the tournament as his team’s leading run-getter with 750 runs in 15 innings. 

Harpreet frustrated the bowlers and brought up his second century of the season shortly after the tea interval. With interest surrounding MP’s second innings dying down soon after Harpreet’s century, the match meandered to a close at the start of the mandatory overs, as Mumbai sealed their final berth on the back of two dominating displays with the bat.

Mumbai entered another final with contributions from Suryakumar Yadav and Aditya Tare, who hit tons on day four to take the team to 426 in their second innings.

Shreyas Iyer scored a 90 and 58 in the game with another notable performance coming from pacer Balwinder Sandhu, who took five wickets in the first innings.

Brief scores: Mumbai 371 and 426 (Aditya Tare 103, Suryakumar Yadav 115, Abhishek Nayar 73; Ishwar Pandey 3/103). Madhya Pradesh 227 and 361/5 in 109 overs (Naman Ojha 113, Harpreet Singh 105). 
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