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He’s a true blue!

Updated on: 05 March,2024 07:35 AM IST  |  Mumbai
RS Sandhu |

Despite lack of runs, Mumbai captain Rahane has earned my admiration for the way he has mentored his boys

He’s a true blue!

Mumbai captain Ajinkya Rahane. Pic/Atul Kamble

BS SandhuThose aspiring to play for the country must excel in knockout stages of the Ranji Trophy. Such performances hold greater value than brilliant displays in the league phase. Seeing players become non-performers in the crucial knockout stage can be quite off-putting. Examining history, one observes that individuals who excelled on Mumbai’s red soil pitches and against Mumbai have stood a greater chance to be picked for India.

Top rescue effort

Though Mumbai won most of their games this season outright, they had to be rescued at crucial junctures through bowlers like Shams Mulani, Tanush Kotian, Tushar Deshpande, Shivam Dube and Musheer Khan. In the semi-final, I noticed the khadoos attitude of Mumbai cricketers surfacing strongly to outwit Tamil Nadu. This was spearheaded by sensible batting from Musheer Khan and an aggressive century from Shardul Thakur, ably supported by consistent performer, Kotian. In the face of adversity, they exhibited resilience, nullifying the view of those who said they know Mumbai cricket on their finger tips. There’s a lesson here: If you provoke lions, they come at you in a stronger fashion.

Also Read: Ranji Trophy: Mumbai repeats past, defeats Tamil Nadu within three days

Skipper Ajinkya Rahane’s torrid time with the bat continued in the semi-final where his side beat Tamil Nadu by an innings and 70 runs inside three days of the five-day fixture. Despite Rahane’s recent challenges and a departure from the typical performance expected of a Test cricketer, my admiration for him only deepens due to his unwavering commitment to overcome these struggles. He has become a symbol of resilience, demonstrating the grit required to navigate through tough times.

Fine guide and mentor

Not only has he evolved into a fine Test player through the nurturing he got through Mumbai cricket. He has also played a crucial role in guiding emerging talents in the Ranji Trophy. His mentorship and leadership have contributed significantly to the development of young players, repaying Mumbai cricket for developing him into a fine Test player. I believe a significant innings is just around the corner; hopefully in the Ranji final. A Test player’s presence elevates the game’s standard, inspiring teammates and opponents alike to lift their performance and provide a quality contest. This benefits spectators, the true lovers of the game, as they get value for their time spent watching such contests.

I am impressed by Sai Kishore, Tamil Nadu’s left-arm spinner, who I believe should soon play for India. He possesses the heart and skills for success at the top level. On the other hand, Washington Sundar’s batting and bowling prowess is sadly underutilised in first-class cricket. And now to the final. I am certain, cricket enthusiasts will thoroughly enjoy a tough contest in the biggest red-ball game of our domestic season.

1983 World Cupper Balvinder Singh Sandhu coached Mumbai’s 1996-97 team to Ranji Trophy glory

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