Mumbai’s shocking exit from the Ranji Trophy on Saturday seemed to have brought to light the bleak future of city cricket, according to coach Sulakshan Kulkarni.
Mumbai, a team in transition with several senior players either injured, on national duty or retired recently, went on to lose their quarter-final against Maharashtra by eight wickets on Saturday despite getting a first innings lead at the Wankhede Stadium.
The last time Mumbai failed to qualify for a Ranji Trophy semi-final was in 2001 against Punjab at the same venue. The senior team’s failure in the quarter-final was the final blow for Mumbai this season after all its junior teams were knocked out in the league stages.
Mumbai players look dejected after the quarter-final loss to Maharashtra at the Wankhede on Saturday. Pics/Suresh KK
Kulkarni urged the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) to look seriously into the failures of all teams. “It is a matter of great concern. The MCA should look into all age group tournaments and analyse what went wrong.
It is important to work on the basics of batting and bowling. I am worried because Mumbai are nothing less than champions. I think the time has come to think about future,” the coach said.
Kedar Jadhav en route his unbeaten 120 on Saturday
Ajit Agarkar, who led Mumbai to its 40th Ranji title last year, surprised everyone by retiring before the season kicked off. Sachin Tendulkar’s last game was the Ranji opener against Haryana. Other senior players like Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma were away on national duty while senior pacer Zaheer Khan was not available for all games.
Seniors not missed: Kulkarni
However, Kulkarni did not complain about Mumbai missing their senior players. “There will be times when a few seniors will not be around. But we have never complained about it. We made the best use of the overall talent available. We tried our best with whatever resources we had,” he said.
The coach blamed the batting failure for Mumbai’s exit. “Our batting never clicked although our bowling was quite consistent this season. We also played only one warm-up (Bapuna tourney) tournament before the season.
That affected our preparation a bit,” he said. About the quarter-final encounter, Kulkarni said: “We have to give credit to their (Maharashtra) bowlers. They bowled in the right areas and made batting really difficult in the second innings. We should have also bowled a little better in the second innings.”
Scorecard: Day 4