Mumbai coach refuses to sulk over Ranji Trophy semi-final loss to Karnataka
Despite folding up for 44 in the first innings in just over an hour, the young Mumbai team did not go down without putting up a brave fight as they managed to take the Ranji Trophy semi-final clash against defending champions Karnataka into the penultimate day on Saturday.
Siddhesh Lad (74) was Mumbai’s last wicket to fall on Saturday. File Pic
The 40-time champions lost to the hosts by 112 runs. Chasing 445 runs to win with almost three days to go in the five-day contest, Mumbai skipper Aditya Tare led the fightback with brilliant 98. On Saturday, Siddhesh Lad then took the responsibility to steer Mumbai through, but the 22-year-old, who is just 13 first-class matches old, was caught behind for 74.
'We showed character'
Lad's wicket ended Mumbai's resilience as Mumbai's think tank decided not to risk sending injured all-rounder Abhishek Nayar (retired hurt on two) for one last go at the target which was still 100-plus runs away.
Anything less than a Ranji Trophy final appearance is a below par performance as per Mumbai's standards. However, coach Pravin Amre begs to differ. “Expectations from the Mumbai team have always been quite high, but it is important to understand that this is a team in transition. Not many senior players were around.
“If you look at the situation we were in this match, I think the boys showed a lot of character. I am absolutely proud of the way they have fought back not only in this match, but throughout the season as well.
“Of course, as a coach it was a nightmare to see the team being bowled out for 44 in the first innings in such a crucial clash. But I kept my cool and backed the players. They all backed each other and that is why we could come close to beating Karnataka,” Amre told Sunday mid-day from Bangalore.
Amre is confident that these youngsters can win the Ranji Trophy title in the next season. “Yes, they can. And why not?” he asked. “This has been the toughest season for them. There were seven debutants. We had a lot of players who had played only three to four first-class games at the start of the season so this experience will give them a lot of confidence for the next season.
“Talent-wise too, there are a lot of players who have the potential for the next level. Shardul Thakur (pacer), in fact, is ready for the higher level,” Amre, who helped Mumbai win three Ranji Trophy titles in his four-year stint as coach, said.
According to the coach, Mumbai would have performed better had Thakur (currently the highest wicket-taker (48) in the Ranji Trophy season) got more support from the other end. “Our bowling only revolved around Shardul. Karnataka had three bowlers who had taken 35-plus wickets in the season. We had quite a few batsmen scoring runs consistently, but bowling was our shortcoming. But despite that we reached the semi-final and this is quite commendable,” Amre signed off.
Karnataka: 202 & 286 beat Mumbai: 44 & 332 (A Tare 98, S Lad 74; A Mithun 4-69) by 112 runs
Kolkata: Centuries from top-order batsmen Swapnil Gugale and Chirag Khurana kept Maharashtra (394-5 at stumps) in the hunt against Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy semi-final at Eden Gardens here on Saturday. Resuming the day 439 runs behind, opener Gugale slammed 154, while Khurana played a perfect ally with an equally delightful 125 as the duo stitched 270 for the second wicket to curtail the deficit. — PTI
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