Ranji Trophy: Relegation concerns for skipper Siddhesh Lad
Siddhesh Lad worried about relegation to Group C when they clash in an Elite Group 'A' game against Chhattisgarh at Wankhede Stadium
Forty one-time Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai are already out of the national championships this season, but the Siddhesh Lad-led outfit are also worried about relegation to Group C when they clash in an Elite Group 'A' game against Chhattisgarh at Wankhede Stadium today.
While Chhattisgarh are also sailing in the same boat - awaiting their maiden outright win of the season - Mumbai's batting line-up will be very inexperienced as only Lad and opener Jay Bista have played more than 10 first-class games. Lad and Bista have figured in 48 and 19 matches respectively, while other specialist batsmen who will play this game - Vikrant Auti, Shivam Dube, Shubham Ranjane, Eknath Kerkar and Yashasvi Jaiswal - have a combined experience of only 20 games. Shreyas Iyer and Aditya Tare have not been included in this squad.
"We know this Ranji Trophy season is over for us, but we will try to do well in this match and start our preparations for the next Ranji season with this game itself," Lad said.
When asked how big a concern was the relegation aspect, Lad said: "It's a very big concern and we would like to work on what went wrong with us this season. We became champions in one-day cricket [Vijay Hazare Trophy] after 12 years, but failed to perform well in the Ranji Trophy, so we would like to discuss this issue with seniors and the management."
Will Lad play?
It is to be seen if the skipper figures in this game as Suryakumar Yadav, who was dropped after Mumbai's drawn game against Maharashtra last month, joined the Mumbai team yesterday evening. It is learnt that Lad has a back injury. Pacer Dhaval Kulkarni will lead the side if Lad is not fit to play. Having fit-again pacer Kulkarni in the side along with Shardul Thakur and Tushar Deshpande is a boost for Mumbai.
Harpreet Singh-led Chhattisgarh are playing Mumbai for the first time and are determined to make the most of the opportunity. "As individual players, there will be some motivation to perform, but as a team there won't be much motivation as we too have no chance of playing the knockouts. But, it's an important match for both teams. To ensure we are in Group A next season makes it a vital game for both of us," said Harpreet.
Young Yashasvi may make debut
Yashasvi Jaiswal may make his debut against Chhattisgarh at the Wankhede Stadium today. Jaiswal, who emerged as player of the series during India's triumph in the U-19 Asia Cup at Dhaka in October last year and scored an unbeaten 241 against Andhra Pradesh in the U-23 CK Nayudu match at Vizag on Friday, is likely to get an opportunity to boost the Mumbai middle order. Eknath Kerkar, who scored 56 not out against Baroda last month, will get a chance to keep wicket for the first time since regular wicketkeeper Tare is not part of the Mumbai team.
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