As Mumbai take on Karnataka in their final league game of Ranji Trophy at Wankhede Stadium, it won’t be Mumbai alone who will be hoping for an outright win in their group but there are other teams too whose future depend on how well they do in their last league game.
The three top teams from three groups, Karnataka, Delhi and Assam, have already made to knock-out stage but a close fight is on cards in each group as teams try to get past the line. Nearly seven other teams have a chance to qualify for the five remaining spots in Ranji quarter-finals.
For instance, In Group A, Mumbai have 17 points and are placed below Tamil Nadu (23) and Baroda (18 points). Two teams, MP and Railways (16 points each), are also waiting for a win. If Tamil Nadu gets one point against Baroda they will make it to last eight but a outright win for Baroda means TN will have to watch out for other games. If Mumbai beats Karnataka with a bonus point than Tamil Nadu’s domestic season will be over.
But if Baroda manages a first-innings lead that would fetch them three points, or gives away a lead, than they will have to wait for Mumbai, MP and Railways game. If MP and Railways manage to get a win with a bonus point than three teams (if Mumbai wins) will be tied up with 23 points. In this scenario, teams having more outright wins will make it through.
Asked about Mumbai’s chances, Aditya Tare said that only a win can help them stay afloat. “Our main focus is to to win, a must in this game. If you ask about other chances of making it knock-out stage, then all teams above us have to lose their games which is impossible. We have to win to stay in contention,” Tare said.
Vidarbha has been a surprise package this season and with two outright wins they are placed second (24 points) after Delhi (31). A first-innings win against Maharashtra will ensure their smooth way for last eight but if Maharashtra registers outright win than they will move ahead without any problem. Meanwhile, Punjab (19 points), who are playing Delhi, will be hoping to beat them back home.
At the same time, if Maharashtra looses to Vidarbha and Punjab registers a big win in Patiala, the Harbhajan Singh-led side will make it to knock-out stage. For Gujarat (18 points) a first-innings lead against Haryana will help them to make it ahead only if Punjab and Maharashtra lose their games respectively.
Even before they approach their final league game Assam has already made it to knock-outs. HP has 27 points whereas its nearest rival Andhra has 22 points. Andhra needs a outright win to stay in contention.
However, if Himachal gets the first-innings lead, they will sail through without any hiccups.