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Mumbai starts favourite

Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: Mumbai's batting might makes it the favourite against Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab has reasons to fancy its chances against Rajasthan when the semifinals of the Premier Cup one-day knockout tournament are played here over the next two days.

The conditions at the floodlit Sawai Man Singh Stadium are a lot different than what the teams experienced at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground in the quarterfinals.

Unlike at the Ferozeshah Kotla, where the ball seamed appreciably in the first hour and the side winning the toss eventually won, the role of the coin will be less crucial here.

The flat pitch promises tall scoring encounters with the bowlers getting very little purchase in the prevailing warm conditions.

That's one of the reasons why Mumbai, which outplayed Delhi in the battle of batsmen, should be considered the best among the four teams here. Mumbai's attack has a good variety with medium pacer Avishkar Salvi and spinners Rajesh Powar and Nilesh Kulkarni looking to exploit any help from the surface. But it is Mumbai's feared batting line-up that is capable of putting the match beyond any opposition.

In-form Wasim Jaffer, Amol Mazumdar, India under-19 player Ajinkya Rahane and another youngster Rohit Sharma form a fine mix of experience and exuberance at the top of the order.

Raina injured

Uttar Pradesh, without an injured Suresh Raina, does not inspire much confidence against Mumbai. U.P.'s batting, with Mohammad Kaif being the mainstay, is unpredictable and therefore less reliable. The bowling looks balanced in the presence of R.P. Singh and Piyush Chawla.

The Punjab-Rajasthan clash should go the visiting team's way due to its overall strength and experience. Rajasthan does not enjoy any significant `home' advantage since it has little experience of playing day-night games.

The final is scheduled for March 28.

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