Ranji Trophy: Will Baroda torment Mumbai again?
After four games, Mumbai are struggling in 16th position with only five points in the combined Group 'A' and 'B' standings. Baroda are in fifth position with 13 points from five matches
When Mumbai and Baroda met at Wankhede Stadium last year, the visitors ended up spoiling Mumbai's 500th Ranji Trophy match celebrations. This time too, the 41-time champions will be under pressure. After four games, Mumbai are struggling in 16th position with only five points in the combined Group 'A' and 'B' standings. Baroda are in fifth position with 13 points from five matches.
In that historic game, despite having the services of Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Abhishek Nayar, Shardul Thakur and Dhawal Kulkarni, Mumbai were restricted to 171 and 260 for seven as Baroda piled up a mammoth 575 for nine declared despite being without all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Yusuf Pathan.
Now, with both these India players in the squad, the visitors appear more confident and it is Mumbai who are feeling the pressure. Only two Mumbai batsmen have managed to score centuries - Shivam Dube and Aditya Tare - but skipper Siddhesh Lad looks in good form (391 runs with four half-centuries). Mumbai is weaker on the bowling front with Dhawal Kulkarni and Tushar Deshpande being injured.
Former captain and Mumbai's most experienced player with 65 first-class games, Aditya Tare expects his teammates to rise to the occasion. "It's important that the individuals step up. The coaches, selectors, Cricket Improvement Committee, Mumbai Cricket Association can't do anything. It's the players on the field and performance that matters. If the players lift their performance, everything will fall in place," Tare said.
Hardik Pandya will be used sparingly
Though bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya is in the Baroda team, his skipper Kedar Devdhar made it clear that he will use the India all-rounder sparingly. Hardik, who was out of action from September due to a back injury, will get an opportunity to prove his match fitness here before the three-match ODI series in Australia next year. "We will use him depending on the situation and how much we need him. There is no need to have him exhausted since he is returning from an injury," said Devdhar.
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Watch video: Mumbai's 500th Ranji Trophy match celebration