Mumbai may have a new coach in Pravin Amre, who is back after 2010-11 and a new captain in 24-year-old Suryakumar Yadav when they take on Jammu & Kashmir in the Group A Ranji Trophy opener at the Wankhede Stadium today.
Wasim Jaffer at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. Pic/Atul Kamble
But their core issue remains the same as last season. If Mumbai are to lift the Ranji Trophy title for the 41st time, they need to stop being over-dependent on former India opener Wasim Jaffer.
Ever since the retirement of senior players like Sachin Tendulkar and Ajit Agarkar in the last season, Jaffer had to take the extra burden of helping Mumbai fare well in the batting department. The elegant right-hander did it with distinction, scoring 582 in nine matches — just seven runs short of Mumbai's top-scorer Aditya Tare in the last season.
The limited-overs tournaments before the Ranji Trophy kicked off gave a clear impression that Mumbai is still a one-man army when it comes to the batting department. Jaffer once again topped the batting charts for Mumbai with 365 runs in six Vijay Hazare Trophy matches last month.
With only Abhishek Nayar and Yadav having relatively more experience under their belt as compared to other youngsters in the team for the first match, the onus will once again be on Jaffer to put up big scores.
Mumbai skipper Yadav said the youngsters will try and bat around him. "He is a very senior cricketer. He is taking extra responsibility in the batting department. The youngsters will try and bat around him," said Yadav.
He, however, did not agree that the team is over-dependent on Jaffer. "His achievements are monumental. Every youngster in the team looks up to him. Yes, he plays a major role in the batting, but others in the team also know their responsibility. If he fails sometimes then someone else will take up the responsibility," said Yadav.