Languishing at the bottom of the table, Jharkhand are virtually out of this year’s Ranji Trophy. But they are still motivated to fight it out. Nevertheless, they are “excited” as it will be the first time they will meet 40-time Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai in the tournament’s history. More than the team, it is the individuals who will be keen to make an impact against the big boys of Indian cricket.
Promising players like Saurabh Tiwary, Varun Aaron, Ishank Jaggi and captain Shabaaz Nadeem will be eager to put on a show that will bring them under the spotlight.
“We are all excited to play the Mumbai team as they were the champions last year and have been for so many times. We came here to give them a good fight and hopefully we will,” left-arm spinner Nadeem said on Thursday.
For Mumbai, however, it will be another day in office. They have had the best of starts with three outright wins from four outings and are atop the table with 19 points. They are now without their regular stars and this is not anything new for them.
Mumbai’s real challenge begins now as their main players Zaheer Khan, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma are away on India duty.
The home side is not rich in experience. Old warhorse Wasim Jaffer is the only player with loads of experience and who will secure the batting line-up and guide youngsters like Aditya Tare, Sushant Marathe, Suryakumar Yadav, Siddhesh Lad besides skipper Abhishek Nayar. The batsmen, however, have stood up when it mattered.
But the biggest worry for Mumbai will be its bowling. Without Zaheer it has suddenly become weak and inexperienced. The responsibility of the new ball will lie on Shardul Thakur and one-match old Akbar Khan, both having a decent game against Vidarbha last week.
Meanwhile, left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar is likely to get the backing of leg spinner Pravin Tambe, who could make his debut at 42.
All in all, a nothing-to-lose Jharkhand will be looking to spoil Mumbai’s party who are just a win away from the knockout stage.
Mumbai vs Jharkhand, Mumbai; Haryana vs Karnataka, Rohtak; Odisha vs Delhi, Sambalpur; Punjab vs Vidarbha, Mohali
Madhya Pradesh vs Rajasthan, Gwalior; Railways vs Bengal, Delhi; Tamil Nadu vs Baroda, Chennai; Uttar Pradesh vs Services, Ghaziabad
Assam vs Goa, Guwahati; Hyderabad vs Tripura, Hyderabad (Deccan); Kerala vs Himachal Pradesh, Kannur; Maharashtra vs J&K, Pune