Mumbai thrash Vidarbha, but bigger test awaits
Mumbai wasted little time in overwhelming Vidarbha by a whopping 338 runs in their fourth match of the Ranji Trophy at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday morning. And while there were only a handful of spectators to celebrate this win, Zaheer Khan & Co walked away a satisfied lot.
And why not? This was the defending champions’ third outright win in four games, and only a spectacular collapse in the remaining four matches, will prevent them from breaking into the knock-out stage. They have already accumulated 19 points and are sitting pretty atop the Group A points table.
Paceman Shardul Thakur scalped the remaining two wickets, bringing a close to a woefully one-sided affair as the game finished within 22 minutes on the fourth and final day. Akshay Wakhare (7) and Sandeep Singh (0) were not able to offer any resistance as the visitors folded for 191, leaving Shrikant Wagh stranded on 41.
Given their results in the competition this season, everything looks hunky-dory for the 40-time champions, but things are bound to get trickier for Mumbai in the forthcoming games. Zaheer, who led the side commendably in the first half of the league stage, will not be available for the remaining games as he’s on his way to South Africa with the Indian side along with Ajinkya Rahane.
Experienced paceman Dhawal Kulkarni, who played an important role in the victory against Haryana, too has been missing in action due to an injury and will take at least three weeks to return to competitive cricket. That effectively means he would be available only from the knock-out stage.
“We will definitely miss the presence of Zaheer bhai and Ajinkya. They are amongst our most experienced players. But, we are eager to continue improving our performance,” said Thakur who returned with his best-ever bowling figures of 4-48.
He had also led the bowling charts in the first innings with 3-40. “I think we need to raise our game now as the responsibility to lead the bowling will rest on Javed (Khan), Akbar (Khan) and myself,” added Thakur. Mumbai will play Jharkhand from December 6 at the Wankhede Stadium.