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Defiant Vidarbha prolong Mumbai's wait for 42nd Ranji Trophy triumph

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Mumbai, Mar 13 (PTI) A dogged fightback from Vidarbha, led by Karun Nair (74) and skipper Akshay Wadkar (56 not out), prolonged Mumbai's wait for a 42nd Ranji Trophy title as the visiting side reached 248/5 in pursuit of a mammoth 538 on the fourth and penultimate day of the final here on Wednesday.

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Set an improbable target to win the summit clash after being outplayed since the first day afternoon, Vidarbha put up a resolute show with the bat to frustrate their hosts by resorting to stonewalling for the majority of the day.

Nair, who joined the Vidarbha ranks only at the start of this season, was at the forefront of their resistance as he faced as many as 220 balls while batting for 287 minutes to keep Mumbai at bay.

But the right-handed batter ultimately fell to the brilliance of Musheer Khan late in the day, with the 19-year-old producing a superb bowling show after setting up the game with 136 in the second innings.

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Nair's skipper Wadkar was batting on 56 with Harsh Dubey (11 not out) for company. The team required another 290 runs with five wickets in hand.

Mumbai managed a couple of wickets each in the first two sessions and the vital scalp of Nair in the last,. They took the second new ball in the 82nd over of the innings.

Up until then, Mumbai had tried almost everything on what remained a placid pitch at the Wankhede Stadium. It had more on offer for the home team's spinners who remained persistent throughout.

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Mumbai's troika of right-arm pacers took turns to come around the wickets to try and bounce out Vidarbha, while spinners operated from both ends to challenge the batters’ techniques.

In the end, Vidarbha walked away with a moral win of sorts having not capitulated given the occasion and pressure of the final and the fact that a target of 538 is perceived as out of reach for most batting line-ups.

The leader of the spin pack for Mumbai was Musheer, who remained nearly unplayable for his figures of 17-3-24-2. He bowled a challenging line from both the sides of the pitch to keep troubling the Vidarbha batters.

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Musheer's dismissal of Nair, who was earlier dropped on four by Hardik Tamore off Kotian, was the one which stood out.

Giving a nice loop to the ball to land it in front of middle and leg, Musheer got it to turn away sharply.

It wasn't the first time in the day when Musheer had challenged Nair's defence this way, but on this instance, he found an outside edge which was grabbed sharply by Tamore.

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Tanush Kotian also played his part taking 2/55 from his 19 overs, having accounted for Dhruv Shorey (28) and Yash Rathod (7) after Vidarbha made their intentions clear earlier in the day.

At no stage did the Vidarbha batters show intention to aim for the humongous target on Wednesday, but were discipline enough to ensure they had long hauls in the middle, barring Atharva Taide (32).

Taide walked across the wickets to attempt a sweep off Shams Mulani (1/56) in the 19th over and was trapped leg-before, post which Mumbai struck again soon to send Shorey back in the shed.

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Aman Mokhade (32) got a lifeline when a sweep shot went straight to Kotian at fine leg who spilled the catch with the batter on 15.

Mokhade, however, could not make the most of the lifeline when an on-field umpire's call for leg-before went against him despite reviewing.

Wadkar appeared busier than his other teammates cracking six fours to make 56 not out from 91 balls, with his innings also including an upper-cut for the maximum with which he raised his fifty.

The Vidarbha skipper also did well with Nair to add 90 runs for the fifth wicket, for which they consumed 173 balls.

Brief scores: Mumbai 224 & 418 lead Vidarbha 105 & 248/5 in 92 overs (Atharva Taide 32, Aman Mokhade 32, Karun Nair 74, Akshay Wadkar 56*; Tanush Kotian 2/56, Musheer Khan 2/38) by 290 runs. PTI DDV PM DDV PM PM

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