A new low: No Mumbai players in Rest of India squad!
When it rains, it pours. After a highly forgettable season, Mumbai suffered another blow yesterday when none of its players were picked in the Rest of India (RoI) squad for the Irani Cup clash between RoI and newly crowned Ranji champions Karnataka to be held in Bangalore from February 9.
Mumbai, the 40-time Ranji Trophy champions were knocked out by Maharashtra in the quarter-finals this season. Pic/Suresh KK
According to Delhi-based statistician Rajneesh Gupta, it is for the first time since the 1988-89 Irani Cup match between Rest of India and Tamil Nadu that no Mumbai player has featured in the team.
And for once it's not difficult to fathom why Mumbai have been dealt this fate by the selectors. The 40-time champions had a horrendous season before Maharashtra put an end to their misery in the quarterfinals at the Wankhede Stadium.
Wicketkeeper Aditya Tare was the top run-scorer for the team with 589 runs in nine matches, but was nowhere close to the top run-getters of the tournament. Although Vishal Dabholkar finished as the highest wicket-taker amongst spinners with 39 wickets in nine games, he was ineffective in the crucial last league match against Gujarat and the quarters against Maharashtra.
Senior Mumbai batsman and former skipper Wasim Jaffer said it's a worrying sign for Mumbai cricket. "Definitely, it's a worrying sign. But realistically, Mumbai batsmen did not have a good season. We averaged around 40 and with that kind of performance you don't expect to get picked.
So, in a way, it (selection) is fair. We (batsmen) needed scores like 800-900 runs in the season, which did not happen, and the results are there for everyone to see. "However, I feel Vishal should have got picked. He was the only spinner to take so many wickets (39).
But with (off-spinner) Harbhajan Singh leading the side, and (leggie) Amit Mishra and Parvez Rasool, who they (selectors) see as a spin-bowling all-rounder, also in the squad, it was expected that Vishal would not be picked," Jaffer told MiD DAY.
Former Mumbai skipper and chairman of selectors Milind Rege said there was no point blaming the national selectors. "It's a wake up call for Mumbai cricket. This is very worrying. We need to really work hard, go back to the drawing board and see where we are going wrong. We might have talent, but it needs to be backed by performances.
"You can't blame the selectors for this. Frankly, we did not have the kind of performances to get picked in the Rest of India team. So, the question should not be why Mumbai players are not picked. It should be why are Mumbai players not performing. The powers that be need to dig deep into Mumbai's cricketing talent," Rege said.
Jaffer was confident of Mumbai bouncing back next season. "We need our batsmen to click. Tare, Kaustubh Pawar and Hiken Shah had a good 2012-13 season, but did not do well this time. Abhishek Nayar and myself, the only senior batsmen, did not have the kind of season we would have wanted. We will surely bounce back. It is just a matter of time. The question is when will it happen," the India Test opener concluded.
Irani Cup squad
Rest of India: Harbhajan Singh (captain), Jiwanjot Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Baba Aparajith, Kedar Jadhav, Ankit Bawne, Dinesh Kartik, Amit Mishra, Pankaj Singh, Ashok Dinda, Varun Aaron, Parveez Rasool, Anureet Singh, Natraj Behera, Mandeep Singh.