A 725-run win against Uttarakhand came after a two-month hiatus that divided the tournament – a challenge in itself. During the break, some Mumbai players were involved in IPL and others were not. Anyway, it was a problem. One group had to adapt to a complete change of format; the other for a long time away from the game.
Mumbai’s batting formation was without senior batters Ajinkya Rahane, Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer. Rahane and Suryakumar were injured during the IPL while Iyer was on national service. And this is what Mumbai’s batting order looked like: Jaiswal at the top, playing only his second first-class match after debuting in January 2019; Armaan Jaffer at number 3, playing his seventh match; and Parkar at No. 4, on debut.
“We knew very well what we were getting into,” said Muzumdar. “The amount of hard work these guys put in over the months of April and May was just amazing. And once you work hard, you have confidence. Yes, we missed Rahane, Surya and Shreyas. At the same time, these guys are good enough They showed it – at least in this game.”
Parkar threatened to break the record for the highest score by a first-class debutant playing for Mumbai, a feat by none other than Muzumdar himself.
“Of course I was really looking forward to it,” said the coach. “I expected him to break it because I wanted to feel the world has come full circle – I got 260 in 1994 and watched it break in my first year as a coach.
“Unfortunately he became exhausted, [we] can not help. But [it] takes nothing from him. What a great blow it was. An incredible blow. The composure, the composure and just the quality of the batting game he displayed was tremendous.”
‘I really want to get the Ranji Trophy’ – Jaiswal
The quarter final of the Ranji Trophy was Jaiswal’s first first-class match in over three years. Mumbai did not pick him in the group stage. Then came the roller coaster, the IPL. And now, suddenly, he was the batter opening for the most decorated domestic team in the country.
Jaiswal did a very good job of dealing with all that, and as a reward for his composure, he walked away with his first-class damsel. “Of course the first century in first-class cricket is very important to me,” he said. “I will always remember it. My last Ranji game was in 2018 , after which I was unavailable since I played the U-19 World Cup. Then came Covid-19. So it’s a good comeback for me, and my mentality has always been that I have to perform when I get the chance.”
Jaiswal, who represented India under-19 at the 2020 World Cup, is clearly feeling a change in environment, from dealing with age-group cricketers to spending time with some of the big names from the domestic circuit.
“When you play U-19, the guys are not that experienced. But when you play here, everyone is,” he said. “If they get a chance they will prove it. You learn that from the older players. You have to push yourself to learn how to do it; that you have to work hard in the nets, in your head and in your physique.
“Four and five day games will not be easy. You are going to play 100 overs, so you have to be hard to perform there.”
Jaiswal added that he is “very happy and blessed” to be playing for Mumbai and is eager to win the big tournament for his side. “Surya bhai and Aditya [Tare] bhai have motivated me enormously. When I look at Shaw bhai, I feel I can do it too. And of course there is Amol sir, who helped me a lot so that I can prove myself. I really want to have the Ranji Trophy. We will do our best to win.”
Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo