With three high-scoring draws, including first-innings points conceded to Hyderabad on a flat deck, Mumbai are in a somewhat desperate situation. With seven points from three matches — they are behind Punjab (23 points) and Madhya Pradesh (11) — the 39-time Ranji Trophy champions take on a beleaguered Bengal side this Saturday at the Brabourne Stadium. Bengal, by the way, are the only team in group A that have lost two matches outright.
Word is that Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has asked for a sporting track. "It’s the need of the hour. The tournament is at an important stage and we need a favourable result. We have asked the CCI (Cricket Club in India) to provide a surface that’ll assist our bowlers," said an MCA official.
It’s unusual for Mumbai to not register outright wins early in the Ranji season. The general consensus is that they have been playing on unresponsive surfaces.
Mumbai have so far scored 1,822 runs in three games and four innings this season with seven centuries. But they have conceded 1,603 runs in three innings against Railways, Rajasthan and Hyderabad. The difference is not significant and, in fact, Hyderabad convincingly out-batted Mumbai in the last encounter.
"We haven’t asked for a sporting tracks but we don’t want flat tracks either. An outright win is important at this juncture because we don’t know how the wickets would behave elsewhere. We have our away-encounters in Rajkot and Indore after playing Punjab at home," said a Mumbai player on condition of anonymity.
Sudhir Naik, the BCCI’s ground and pitches committee representative from West Zone, has been a regular visitor to the CCI. "According to BCCI guidelines, we need to have sporting tracks for domestic tourneys. However, I haven’t received any specific request from the MCA," said Naik. Brabourne curator Prakash Adhav refused comment.
Meanwhile, Wasim Jaffer is back from Haj and looked extremely good during practice on Thursday.