It took just 14 balls on the third day for Mumbai to score the 14 runs required to register their first win of their Ranji Trophy campaign. They defeated Chhattisgarh by nine wickets at Wankhede Stadium with a day to spare. The win ended the barren run that has set alarm bells ringing in Mumbai cricket circuit about bench strength and leadership.
The top order failed and the bowlers couldn’t take wickets when it mattered; as a result the team could never seize any vital moments. With the batting weak, they were usually playing catch-up in most games, always behind the opposition.
There were other reasons as well that led to the decline. Like the absence of Shreyas Iyer (playing for India A) and Prithvi Shaw (on national duty and then injury) through the opening rounds. But the bench strength was weak and Mumbai couldn’t find decent replacements.
Dhawal Kulkarni, who captained this game as Siddhesh Lad had to sit out due to an injury, put it down to lack of experience. “We need experienced batsmen and four of the main guys hardly played. The strength of Mumbai team has that the batting unit usually revolves around two experienced guys. And this year unfortunately they were not available. Every year there used to be Shreyas, Ajinkya (Rahane), Surya (Kumar Yadav). This season, unfortunately, they were not there. Shreyas came in for the last games” Kulkarni pointed out. The batting unit was weak this season and they never could manage decent partnerships. Barring Lad and Shivam Dube, the allrounder, the batsmen have hardly made any impact.
Kulkarni admitted as much. “The things that didn’t work well was the partnerships. If we had more partnerships in the middle from batting unit then things could have been different. At the same time, we were not able to take twenty wickets. To win outright games, we need to take twenty wickets. Those are two are areas that we will look try to work out in next season.” Basically, batting and bowling – or in other words a total revamp needed. Mumbai lack quality spin bowlers as well. Kulkarni says the spinners are still in the developing stage and that it would take time for them to mature and improve.
Mumbai had started the season strongly when they won the limited-overs tournament, Vijay Hazare Trophy, after a gap of nearly a decade. Mumbai had a star-studded line up for Vijay Hazare as all key players, who are in national reckoning turned up.
Brief Scores: At Mumbai: Chattisgarh 129 and 149 lost to Mumbai 188 and 92/1 (Jay Bista 49 not out, Vikrant Auti 34, Pankaj Rao 1-20) by 9 wickets.