Depleted Mumbai favourites against MP

Published: Monday, November 15, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Mumbai:In spite of a depleted bowling attack, hosts and reigning champions Mumbai begin as firm favourites against Madhya Pradesh in their Elite Division group A tie commencing at the Wankhede Stadium here tomorrow.

The home team are without the services of captain Sairaj Bahutule and Ramesh Powar, both very useful lower order batsmen and key spin bowlers, and injured medium-pacer Avishkar Salvi.

But the presence of Ajit Agarkar, who has been named the vice-captain, gives the Vinod Kambli-led Mumbai the extra edge in pace bowling on a wicket that should help the medium pacers at least initially.

Agarkar, who was chosen in the 15-member Indian squad for the Platinum Jubilee tie against Pakistan at Kolkata but failed to make it to the playing eleven, is the man Mumbai would be hoping for to lead the attack from the front.

He is expected to be supported by fellow medium-pacers Swapnil Hazare and Usman Maulvi while the hosts are placing their entire spin hopes on lanky left-arm orthodox slow bowler Nilesh Kulkarni.

Mumbai's batting, with the opening duo of Wasim Jaffer and Vinayak Mane running into form with centuries in their drawn opening tie against Railways at Delhi, looks pretty strong for the MP attack which would rely a lot on veteran leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani to give it the extra sharpness.

Mumbai, a little disappointed at gathering only two points against Railways, are aiming for the maximum points from this tie against a relatively weak opponent.

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