Agarkar wants fielding improvement

A wobbly start to their Ranji Trophy season notwithstanding, Mumbai found late momentum as they were the third team from Group A to make the quarter-finals. It took them eight league games to figure out their batting and bowling combinations. But they are still to find a solution for poor catching.

Sachin Tendulkar and Ajit Agarkar
Sachin Tendulkar walks into bat during Mumbai’s practice session at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. (inset) Captain Ajit Agarkar at nets.

It almost became a regulation for Mumbai to drop at least three to four catches in an innings. Going into the knockout round, the 39-time champions would not like to see any butterfingers when they take on Yusuf Pathan’s Baroda at the Wankhede Stadium today.

Agarkar is back
Mumbai skipper Ajit Agarkar, who is back after recovering from a calf injury, said it’s about getting the focus right. “It’s about concentration, focus. If you keep dropping catches, you should practise more, and the guys have been doing just that.

“We have not fielded well. It’s not that there is lack of effort. We have to get it right. Hopefully, all the bad stuff is out of the way and we can grab on to whatever comes our way,” Agarkar said.

Yusuf Pathan
Yusuf Pathan at practice. Pics/Shadab Khan

The former India pacer is hoping specialist slip catchers will do the job this time. “There have been different guys in the slips, but eventually it is a specialist position.

There are three or four guys who regularly do it and they have to take the catches that come. We have dropped a fair share of catches. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen (anymore). We have got five tough days ahead and it doesn’t make it easy if you drop catches,” he added.

Coach Sulakshan Kulkarni had joked during the last Ranji tie against Gujarat that he would henceforth make his players cut a cake whenever they dropped catches.¬†Overall, Mumbai has lacked the punch this season. None of their big names figure in the Top 10 leading run-scorers and wicket-takers’ list of the season. Rohit Sharma is in fine form, but has been away on national duty along with Ajinkya Rahane.

Agarkar clarified that Sharma and Rahane would not be part of the today’s match as the city outfit has not requested the national team management to release the duo despite Sunday’s third ODI against Pakistan in Delhi being an inconsequential fixture.

Banking on Sachin
Meanwhile, Mumbai will be looking up to batting legend Sachin Tendulkar, who will feature in his first competitive cricket match post his retirement from ODIs recently, to provide the much-needed stability in the middle order. The batting maestro too will look to exploit the Ranji platform to get some runs ahead of the crucial Test series against Australia later this year. 

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