Match Preview – M. Pradesh vs Mumbai, Ranji Trophy 2021/22-2022, Final

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“Whoever wins, Shivaji Park is the winner,” joked a former Mumbai player.

He referred to this year’s Ranji Trophy final and how Amol Muzumdar and Chandrakant Pandit, two Mumbai greats who honed their skills at the legendary nursery of the late Ramakant Achrekar, now face each other.

Mumbai vs Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday brings together two old friends who know everything about each other. Muzumdar actually played under Pandit in 2003-04 and loved it one of the most productive seasons of his career. This, after he considered retiring.

Both gentlemen share the same coaching philosophy: it’s all about the players and nothing but the title makes up the success. It’s a feeling embedded in Mumbai players when they get the cap. Pandit was part of six title wins as a coach; Muzumdar will want to send Mumbai to their first under him, in his first season, and their 42nd overall.

Other than Dhawal Kulkarni, who was part of their previous title win in 2015-16, none of the other Mumbai players know what it’s like to win the Ranji Trophy. The same goes for MP. Except for Pandit, who was captain when they last reached the final in 1998-99, the others will experience the latter feeling for the first time.

MP may look unannounced by comparison, but they still have Rajat Patidar, who lit up the IPL, Yash Dubey and Himanshu Mantri — two old-school openers who like to dig deep — and Akshat Raghuwanshi, an 18-year-old batter so impressive that Pandit only needed one look in an exhibition game to place him in the main roster.

MP has been very results-oriented this time; they came from a group of people like Kerala and Gujarat, they had no other choice. This meant their bowling had to be on point and it was. Puneet Datey leads a seam attack that has yielded 47 wickets so far, the second best after Bengal’s 60. Their best spinner Kumar Kartikeya is second on the list of highest wicket takers this season with 27 scalps in five games. Saransh Jain, Anubhav Agarwal and Gaurav Yadav are always ready for support.

So everything is set. The pandemic has wiped out much domestic cricket in the past two years. But now, over the course of the next five days, 22 men – many of whom play outside the IPL spotlight – will have the chance to make history.

Form Guide

Bombay: DWWWD (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Madhya Pradesh: WWDWW

In the spotlight

Mumbai’s success this season is a result of their batters racking up massive first innings totals and then pulverizing the opponent to dust. But their captain hasn’t started yet. Prithvi Shaw‘s inventories have fallen in the past year. Once a first-choice in the Indian team, he has now been passed by Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill. A Ranji Trophy final is a high profile competition and if he can make a big one here he may be able to convince the national selectors to give him a second chance.

Five-wicket-haul in the quarter-final, five-for in the semi-final, a first IPL stint – life can look like a bed of roses for MPs right now Kumar Kartikeya† But the man hasn’t been home for over ten years. He can only go back after making a name for himself. That was the agreement. They should probably manage to lead Madhya Pradesh to their first-ever Ranji Trophy title.

Team news

Barring late injuries, it is unlikely that both squads will make any changes from the teams that played the semi-finals. That said, MP could be in for a surprise by fielding Kuldeep Sen, the fiery fast bowler who missed both knockout rounds due to injury.

Bombay: 1 Prithvi Shaw (capt), 2 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 3 Armaan Jaffer, 4 Suved Parkar, 5 Sarfaraz Khan, 6 Hardik Tamore (wk), 7 Shams Mulani, 8 Dhawal Kulkarni, 9 Tanush Kotian, 10 Mohit Avasthi, 11 Tushar Deshpande

Madhya Pradesh: 1 Yash Dubey, 2 Himanshu Mantri (wk), 3 Shubham Sharma, 4 Rajat Patidar, 5 Aditya Shrivastava (capt), 6 Akshat Raghuwanshi, 7 Saransh Jain, 8 Anubhav Agarwal, 9 Gaurav Yadav/Kuldeep Sen, 10 Kumar Kartikeya, 11 Puneet Datey

Location and conditions

June is an unusual time for first-class cricket in India, and with the rain all around us, ground crews found it extremely challenging to get the Bengaluru ground ready for the Ranji Trophy and India-South Africa knockouts T20I which was abandoned on Sunday. This is the first first-class match in more than two years at Chinnaswamy Stadium, and the curator is hoping for a surface with a solid turf and excellent resilience. There will be enough moisture for the seam bowlers to work with.

Statistics and trivia

  • Mumbai has only lost one of the 12 finals they have played in the past 30 years. That was to Gujarat in 2016-17. By the way, Mumbai was then coached by Pandit. They haven’t made a final since then.
  • Mumbai is one of only three teams this season (Andhra and Rajasthan being the other two) not to concede a century.
  • Mumbai’s bowling average of 19.73 is the best for any team in this Ranji Trophy.
  • The average of MP’s seam bowlers (19.91) is the best of all teams to make the Ranji knockouts this season.

Quotes

“We haven’t looked at the quarter-finals or the semi-finals or the finals. There are systems that work in the locker room and we want to follow that until the last ball is thrown in the Ranji Trophy season. That was our commitment at the start of The season.”
Mumbai coach Amol Muzumdar about what has worked for his team

“I do not tell state associations what my expectations are. Those who know the dos and don’ts to board Chandrakant Pandit, only contact me. My working principle is simple: completely trust me through the establishment and rental I have complete freedom to operate if you want results.”
MP coach Chandrakant Pandit to PTI the way he likes to work.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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