Defending champs Mumbai eye fourth outright win
Half way through the league stage of the 2013-14 Ranji Trophy, the disparity between Mumbai and Jharkhand could not be starker.
While the 40-time champions sit pretty at the top of Group ‘A’ with 19 points from four games, Jharkhand are still struggling to fit in amongst the big boys of domestic cricket. They have managed only three points from five outings and are already out of reckoning for a quarter-final berth.
So, when the visitors take on Mumbai in their sixth game starting today at the Wankhede, it would not be difficult to fathom which of the two teams start as overwhelming favourites.
What’s more, this fixture suits Mumbai perfectly as they set about getting used to life without Zaheer Khan who played a key role in Mumbai’s previous games this season. They will also not have middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane to rely upon, as the duo are away doing national duty in South Africa.
Zaheer took 16 wickets but that was only half the story as his presence was enough to keep opponents on tenterhooks. Left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar has been the leading wicket-taker for Mumbai with 20 scalps and will be keen to build on this excellent start to his fledgling career.
On the batting front, Wasim Jaffer (349 runs) has gone about doing what he has always done: standing up for the team’s cause when they find themselves in dire straits.
The visitors, meanwhile, will be banking on the presence of speedster Varun Aaron, spinner skipper Shahbaz Nadeem and the in-form Saurabh Tiwary, who has been waging a lone battle with six half-centuries in eight innings.