The script went along predicted lines. Mumbai, with one foot already in the Ranji knockouts, went for quick runs in their bid for an outright win.

They folded up just before lunch for 447, a lead of 203 runs, and had reduced Gujarat to 159 for 5, a deficit of 44 runs with a day's play remaining, by stumps on Monday.

It should be just a matter of time on New Year day for Mumbai to get their official pass to the knockouts, and for Gujarat to wind up their campaign for the season.

Overnight batsmen Surya Kumar Yadav and Abhishek Nayar added 45 runs for the sixth wicket before Yadav went back to the pavilion, trapped in-front by a Kushang Patel in-cutter.

His subdued 83-ball 42 was his highest for the season. Ankeet Chavan came and left, and the responsibility fell upon Dhawal Kulkarni and Nayar to boost the hosts' total.

Kulkarni scored a brisk 22, with three fours and a six, before Nayar, in the company of captain Zaheer Khan, added 48 runs for the final wicket to set stage up for his team to go for the kill.

Nayar remained unbeaten on 72 (126 balls, 9x4s), his seventh fifty of the season to add to his two hundreds. Even before they came in for their second essay, Gujarat seemed to have lost it in their minds already.

As in the first innings, the visiting batsmen looked reluctant to stay at the wicket, as if they had to catch an early flight.

On a pitch that has gone into permanent slumber, they tried to attack their way out, and perished in the process.

Barring a brisk 78-run fifth-wicket stand between skipper Parthiv Patel and Manpreet Juneja, there was hardly anything positive about their innings.

Parthiv once again played a cameo, but his run-a-ball 47 was cut short by Wasim Jaffer's sharp catch at first slip.

Juneja, who has been the second-highest run-getter for Gujarat this season with more than 700 runs, is still there on a watchful 39, but he can only delay the inevitable. Zaheer didn't bowl on Monday, owing to a stiff calf muscle.

"He decided to rest himself as he felt a bit stiff. There's nothing to worry about," said Mumbai coach Sulakshan Kulkarni.

As things stand, Mumbai look set to notch their second outright win on the trot, which for a team that had only 14 points from their first seven matches, will be a big boost ahead of the tougher knockout phase.

Gujarat's campaign looks all but over, unless, of course, they can salvage a draw here and hope for Madhya Pradesh to stop Saurashtra from winning at Rajkot. Sadly for Parthiv's boys, both possibilities look unlikely.

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