Ranji Trophy: Jharkhand give Mumbai a reality check
Mumbai somehow managed to escape with a draw against Jharkhand in their fifth league game of the Ranji Trophy at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday. They returned with one point compared to their opponents' three on account of the first innings deficit.
But more than anything else, the game succeeded in holding a mirror to the 40-time champions, and what they saw would surely not have been pleasing.
Jharkhand provided a reality check to the defending champions and the message was unequivocal: shape up quickly or prepare for some shock therapy! Mumbai were set a challenging victory target of 365 from 65 overs yesterday after Jharkhand declared on 278-7. But their woes began from the fourth over of the chase itself when they lost Sushant Marathe for his second duck of the match.
Pace bowler Shankar Rao trapped him leg before wicket and whatever belief they had of a shot at victory petered out there and then. Jharkhand, however, were buoyed by their early success and speedster Varun Aaron raised hopes of a win when he sent the vastly experienced Wasim Jaffer and the budding Siddhesh Lad back to the pavilion with only 28 on the board by the end of the 11th over.
Jaffer got out for 10 when the ball took a leading edge off an attempted flick off the hips and landed in the hands of skipper Shahbaz Nadeem at
covers. Things looked bleak from here but Mumbai hung on grimly thanks to the efforts of Aditya Tare (36 runs), Hiken Shah (21 not out) and Suryakumar Yadav (31 not out), before the two captains decided to shake hands half way through the mandatory overs with the score reading 115-5.
Mumbai are still at the top of Group A with 20 points, but wicketkeeper Tare conceded that Jharkhand have provided them a wake up call. “We are half way through the league stage and will have to score more than 400 in the first innings to give our young bowlers a chance to keep us in the game,” he said.
With Sachin Tendulkar and Ajit Agarkar’s retirement, Zaheer Khan and Ajinkya Rahane’s India call-up, and Dhawal Kulkarni’s injury, they are left with a vulnerable pace attack and a relatively inexperienced batting unit.