Mumbai could not have asked for a better start to their Ranji Trophy campaign. Having beaten Haryana in the opener in Lahli, in what was Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell first class encounter, the defending champions who are chasing their 41st title defeated Punjab in Chandigarh yesterday by a whopping 184 runs.
Left-arm spinner, Vishal Dabholkar led the charge once again claiming 4-87 (match figures of 10-125) and was ably assisted by Iqbal Abdulla who returned with 3-37. Dabholkar, 26, made his debut against Baroda in the quarter-final of the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy in January and has gone from strength to strength. He has already taken 15 wickets from the first two games this time, and needless to say Mumbai coach Sulakshan Kulkarni is an elated man.
“Before the start of the season, someone asked me whether we would be missing Ramesh Powar and Ankit Chavan. I told him it was difficult to replace players who have performed consistently, but at the same time I emphasised that we need to give Vishal some time to grow into his role. I am happy he has taken the responsibility and performed well so far,” Kulkarni told MiD DAY yesterday.
So what are the traits that have marked Dabholkar out as a bowler in his fledgling first-class career? “First of all, it’s his temperament. I guess that comes from the fact that he was made to work very hard before he could break into the Mumbai playing XI. Because of this, he has become mentally tough. He has been focussing on landing the ball in the right areas and in the past few months has developed a nice turn.
That worked in his favour on a pitch which supported spinners,” explained Kulkarni. Another man who played a crucial role in Mumbai’s win was veteran batsman Wasim Jaffer. And Kulkarni could just not thank him enough. “What can I say about a player who has been selfless in his service to Mumbai cricket? He was absolutely brilliant in his knock of 111 in the first innings.
Every youngster wanting to learn the game should watch Wasim. I don’t recall him playing a single shot in the air during that innings. All his shots were timed to perfection and played on the carpet.” Mumbai now play Delhi in their third match from November 14 at the MCA ground at BKC.
Brief Scores: Mumbai: 282 and 271 Punjab: 155 and 214 in 68.3 overs (Yuvraj Singh 40, Rajwinder Singh 29, Vishal Dabholkar 4-87, Iqbal Abdulla 3-37).