It is a great feeling to be playing the 500th Ranji game for a terrific side. We feel we are quite fortunate to be the squad that will be playing the 500th game, says Aditya Tare
The change in Ranji Trophy format of four groups with seven teams each means less matches for teams to prove their worth. It may sometimes be cruel if the matches are washed out, like Hyderabad faced in the first two rounds.
It would also mean early diminishing chances of making the knockout, like Tamil Nadu are facing now elimination from knock-out stage.
Mumbai, who have time and again bounced back from grim situations, are in a better position as they face Baroda in their fourth round of Group C from Thursday.
Mumbai return to Wankhede Stadium after nearly two years following the neutral venue format that failed last season.
With a victory in Bhubaneshwar last week against Odisha, Mumbai are third in the table with 10 points and have slightly ‘weaker’ opponents, if one may call them, to face in Baroda first up, Andhra and Tripura.
“Every game from now on is important. We know that we have two teams ahead of us in the points table and we have to do the catching up. This game is important as we are chasing teams ahead of us (Andhra, 15 pts, and Madhya Pradesh, 14),” Tare said.
“It is going to be tough as two teams out of seven go to the knockouts. If any good team lags behind or loses a game because of weather, it is not fair. We have to accept the rules and have to play,” Tare added.
An already-strong Mumbai side with Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane in it, is further strengthened by the joining of Shreyas Iyer, who missed one the previous round due to the national call-up.
Captain Aditya Tare is only pleased with his batsmen’s form. “Prithvi Shaw has two centuries, Akhil Herwadkar, Jay Bista, Siddhesh Lad one each. So, we already have five hundreds this season. Our batting strength is good. Everyone is in touch. We are in good form,” the wicket-keeper said on the match eve.
A Mumbai-Baroda match would have been interesting and keenly contested if the visiting side had the likes of the Pandya brothers, the Pathan brothers. But that they are not there is like half the battle already won for Mumbai in their 500th Ranji match.
“Krunal is not available. Don’t ask about Pathan brothers,” said chief coach Atul Bedade. While Irfan Pathan was removed from captaincy before the previous round for poor performances, Yusuf made himself unavailable.
Baroda, who have only four points and are fifth in the table, are in the rebuilding phase, and Bedade, former international and who took over at the start of the season, said that the team needs another year or two to settle down.
Though it should be a Mumbai-dominated show in the next four days in their return to their ‘sweet home’, they still have to go out and execute against a “dangerous Baroda side” as Tare put it.
“Baroda has always been a good team. At the moment, they are a young team but they are always dangerous. They have a few unknown players. You don’t know what their strengths and weaknesses are. It is always difficult to play unknown faces. Baroda is a good team with new faces. It will be a big challenge to take on the youngsters,” Tare said.
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