Mumbai will aim to be the Mumbai of yesteryear in their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Uttarakhand, starting Monday. By the time the hilly state — aiming to reach new heights with a new generation of players — emerged nearly 22 years ago, the heavyweights had won the nation’s premier domestic tournament 34 times.
From 2000 to 2022, Mumbai had another seven massive title-winning trophies placed in their envious trophy cabinet.
In the context of Ranji Trophy, it’s ironic to use the word strive and Mumbai in the same latitude, as winning this title was a matter of course for the Mumbai outfits of Halcyon’s days when they were superior, stubborn and at times a bit were snobbish.
Of course, their game was also marked by their well-documented ‘never-say-die’ attitude and hate-to-lose approach, something that is trying to rediscover the once-old cradle of Indian cricket.
Mumbai’s entry into the quarter-finals of this edition was far from smooth as they nearly made it after Saurashtra failed to win by a bonus point in their final group match against Goa.
Nevertheless, the 41-time winners are the firm favorites heading into their latest challenge.
Mumbai is counting on their skipper Prithvi Shaw to lead up front as the little right-handed batter has the ability to pull off the inexperienced Uttarakhand charge at Alur Cricket Stadium II.
A marauding Shaw is always a threat to the opposition in one form or another, and Uttarakhand will strive to catch him early.
Mumbai has a string of relatively new batters, including Arman Jaffer, Bhupen Lalwani and Hardik Tamore, who will have to play their roles well.
However, the two players who could make a big impact are young opener Yashasvi Jaiswal and Sarfaraz Khan.
With his younger brother Musheer in the roster, Sarfaraz will be only too happy to put on a good show.
Sarfaraz, who did well for Delhi Capitals in the IPL-15, has taken Mumbai out of trouble on many occasions and will again try to anchor the innings.
Ditto for Jaiswal, in whom the team management and coach Amol Mazumdar have put their trust time and again. The two have all the necessary shots in the book and can subdue the opposition’s attack.
Veteran batter Aditya Tare will have to take on more responsibility, along with left-turning all-rounder Shams Mulani.
Mulani had taken 11 wickets in the team’s last league game against Goa and will again try to weave his web around the opponent’s batter.
He also forged a match-winning partnership with Tanush Kotian in the match against Goa.
With Mulani a certainty in the XI in play, off-spinner Kotian could be preferred over senior pro Shashank Attarde, given his ability with the bat.
Mumbai has quite a paced attack, led by the seasoned Dhawal Kulkarni, who will be joined in Tushar Deshpande.
The battle for the third pacer could be between Mohit Awasthi and Royston Dias.
As the Muzumdar-coached side strives to get one step closer to the 42nd title, Uttarakhand looks set to come as a surprise.
Focus on Gill in Punjab vs Madhya Pradesh game
Meanwhile, following his successful outing with Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League, the focus will be on opener Shubman Gill, as his side Punjab takes on Madhya Pradesh in another quarter-final.
The elegant right-handed batter will face off against a varied MP attack featuring left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya Singh, who also recently made his IPL debut.
The game is also a battle between veteran coaches Chandrakant Pandit and Surendra Bhave, two of the brightest minds in the domestic arena, and it will be interesting to see how they compete against each other.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)