No team fears Mumbai now, says former stalwart Rajput

Former Mumbai skipper Lalchand Rajput says no team dreads Mumbai like in earlier years
Mumbai have not just lost a chance of making their 44th Ranji Trophy Elite Division final, but are fast-losing a reputation of being the most feared team on the domestic circuit. The 39-time champions failed to put up a fight as their batsmen crumbled under pressure, responding to Tamil Nadu's first innings score of 359 in the semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday.

To the fore: Tamil Nadu's Laxmipathy Balaji (4-28) in full cry on Day
Three of the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Mumbai at the Wankhede
Stadium yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK

Resuming at 121 for six, Wasim Jaffer's men lasted only 68 minutes on the penultimate day's morning before being bowled out for 157, giving the visitors a huge lead of 202 runs. The last day of the match now remains a formality as Tamil Nadu are all set make the final by virtue of a first innings lead.

Lalchand Rajput

India opener Murali Vijay batted brilliantly to notch up his maiden ton (103 batting) of the season as Tamil Nadu scored 220 for four in their second essay to take the lead to 422 at the end of day's play. Former Mumbai captain Lalchand Rajput, who was following the action at the Churchgate venue, said there is no more a fear factor playing against the champion outfit.

"Teams do not fear playing against Mumbai anymore. They used to be scared to play against Mumbai during our times. Half the battle used to be won before they (opponents) took the field. That was Mumbai's pride. But unfortunately, it is fading away. Mumbai have never allowed any team to score so freely as Tamil Nadu is doing now," Rajput told MiD DAY yesterday.

Talking about the match, the former India coach said Mumbai were completely outplayed. "We were completely outclassed in all the three departments (bowling, batting and fielding). People might say it's a bad day in office, but these bad days are occurring too often," he said.

Agarkar's absence
Rajput felt the Ajit Agarkar fiasco might have affected the team's morale. "We missed Ajit's experience, especially in this game," said Rajput before adding, "the incident may have had a bearing on the team because no one likes to see a senior player being treated this way. We got many opportunities to come back, but failed to capitalise on any of those. And Ajit has always done well in crucial games. We need to seriously think where we are lacking. Such a performance cannot be taken lightly."

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