Yesterday was a red-letter day in Mumbai cricket as the Ranji Trophy team inscribed the city’s name for the 40th time on the silverware that has been in Mumbai Cricket Association’s custody longer than any other state association. Ajit Agarkar’s team were favourites and they lived up to that reputation on all the three days of the five-day final. Hapless Saurashtra will have to put in yet another effort to ensure their bare cupboard is occupied.
Agarkar’s leadership has stood out and it is hard to imagine that this was the same man who walked out in a huff when he was not included in the playing XI at the start of the 2011-12 season. Making him captain was a masterstroke indeed! Mumbai’s young guns were not trigger-shy and seniors like Wasim Jaffer and Sachin Tendulkar’s enthusiasm was child-like while Zaheer Khan would be rueing the fact that he did not recover to make the final.
Mumbai’s dominance is nothing less than amazing and despite all talk and indication of falling standards, the national championship has been won with mind-boggling regularity. The barren years between 1985-86 and 1992-93 seems so far away. A Ranji Trophy-winning team cannot be discounted when it comes to India selection and Sandeep Patil being Mumbai’s chief selector as well, will now have to convince his colleagues on the national selection committee to seriously consider some members of Mumbai’s triumphant gang.
Yesterday’s win doesn’t mean that Mumbai’s garden is full of roses. A lot more needs to be done at the club level to ensure the production of quality players. With the under-16 team winning the Vijay Merchant Trophy on the same day, Mumbai’s cricketing fraternity has good reasons for the celebrations to continue through the week. But there’s work ahead too.