Old captain,oldest debutant

Leading the team for the first time this season,Jaffer will have his task cut out.

Written by Shahid Judge | Mumbai | Published: December 14, 2013 4:40:58 am

Pravin Tambe,42,is set to become the third oldest player ever to make his Ranji Trophy debut. Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer claimed that though the team sheet had not been finalised,but the leg-spinner is a “serious contender” for the game against Orissa. “Tambe has the experience and his bowling lends variety to our attack. He is also a decent batsman,” said Jaffer,who has twice led Mumbai’s successful Ranji Trophy campaigns.

And with those old hands holding the reins,the most-decorated domestic side will be looking to return to winning ways. Something Mumbai hope after their recent hiccup. During the last game against Jharkhand,that ended in a draw,there had been an uncertainty at the helm. Before leaving for South Africa,Zaheer Khan had passed on the captain’s band to first-time leader Abhishek Nayar. But the change of guard wasn’t smooth. Many at Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) felt that Nayar didn’t come across as a natural leader in the game against Jharkhand. It was this opinion that resulted in the captaincy invitation getting extended to 35-year-old opener.

Leading the team for the first time this season,Jaffer will have his task cut out. Though,they lead Group A but their batting has lacked consistency. Jaffer,along with Aditya Tare,have been among runs but the other top-order batsmen have been found wanting. The bowling department on the other hand has been the redeeming factor.

Left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar has led the wicket-taking charge,picking up 26 wickets from five games. On the other hand,medium-pacer Javed Khan has improved with every game. The challenge for Jaffer is to bringing the best out of his young players.

“The team is very young because we’re missing senior players,but they still have the talent to perform. We just need to maintain a positive mindset,” said Jaffer. Orissa after conceded the first-innings lead to Delhi in their last match are looking forward to another tough game. “We are always very eager to play against bigger teams,” said captain Biplab Samantray.

Amongst the top performers in the Orissa ranks is seamer Basant Mohanty who has picked 22 wickets. In terms of the batting,opener Natraj Behera announced his intentions with his patient knock of 158 against Delhi,while Abhilash Mallick has an impressive streak of 71,98 and 50 in his last three outings.

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