ASK leggie Karn Sharma to sum up Railways’ performance in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season and even before any words could roll out of his lips, his expression had summed it up. Railways are languishing at the bottom of the table with six points. In six games they managed just one win; and lost the five remaining games. There is nothing to talk about in the batting department, as only one century has been scored so far. Not that it’s all sunshine in the bowling barring Anureet Singh, who has been the stand out performer with 27 wickets in five games.
Even Karn Sharma, the only player who has represented India from their line-up, has had an ordinary season with seven wickets in five matches — the only silver lining is that he grabbed a five-for in the last game against Madhya Pradesh. Tired of losing, Railways have included five youngsters from their under-23 side to the Ranji team for the game against Mumbai at Wankhede Stadium.
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“Things have not been going our way for quite sometime now,” Sharma said. “It’s not that we all didn’t work hard, but sometimes we just couldn’t control one session and the game slipped away from us.”
Railways will dream of derailing Mumbai but it’s clear it’s not going to be easy. Fatigue is another factor as they are the only team in Group B who have played all their games without any break. Despite all odds, Railways are hoping they can somehow remain in the elite group.
Mumbai have had their own troubles this season, mostly off the field. This Diwali break was marred by controversies surrounding the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). They didn’t want to play Railways at the Wankhede and instead had preferred the MCA-BKC ground. At the Wankhede last week, Mumbai had scored more than 600 runs against Uttar Pradesh and many felt it was not the right track to play games as it will be an uphill task to produce an outright win. As a result the Mumbai Ranji side tried to shift to the other venue but the Indian cricket board didn’t allow it due to logistics reasons. On Sunday MCA had to do a last-minute change and shift the game back to Wankhede .
Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit downplayed the controversy. “I would not like to comment (on the matter). After getting 600 runs we thought we could win. Unfortunately, it did not happen. Whatever (the) conditions, we should be able to play well and exploit the conditions. There’s no point complaining,” Pandit said.
Fixtures: Assam vs Delhi (Guwahati), Haryana vs Orissa (Lahli), Maharashtra vs Bengal (Pune), Vidarbha vs Rajasthan (Nagpur); Baroda vs Punjab (Baroda), Gujarat vs MP (Surat), UP vs TN (Kanpur), Mumbai vs Railways (Mumbai); Goa vs Kerala (Porvorim), Saurashtra vs HP (Rajkot), Services vs Hyderabad (Delhi), Tripura vs Jharkhand (Agartala).