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Outright confident!

Updated on: 23 February,2024 07:29 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Subodh Mayure |

Armed with five convincing wins, Ajinkya Rahane’s Mumbai, who take on Baroda in today’s Ranji Trophy quarter-final at BKC, are justifiably…

Outright confident!

Mumbai skipper Ajinkya Rahane during a practice session at MCA-BKC yesterday. Pics/Shadab Khan

After five outright wins to emerge Elite Group ‘B’ table-toppers with 37 points, the last thing Mumbai skipper Ajinkya Rahane wants from his team is a drop in intensity when the 41-time champions take on Baroda in today’s quarter-final at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s Bandra Kurla Complex ground.  

“It’s a habit [to win outright games]. Once you start winning matches outright in domestic cricket, as a team, you then believe that you can bounce back from any situation. I’m sure our boys have learnt many things while winning matches outright. We don’t want to see drawn games in four-day matches,” Rahane told reporters on the eve of the five-day quarter-final, on Thursday. 

Baroda coach Mukund ParmarBaroda coach Mukund Parmar

Confidence notwithstanding, Rahane is aware of his opponents’ strengths.

Vishnu Solanki’s Baroda have enjoyed  three outright triumphs this season.   

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‘Baroda are a quality team’

“Baroda are a quality team, full of youngsterss.  They doing well has boosted their morale. Our focus will be on ourselves, our game and how we can do better for Mumbai. In five-day cricket, especially in the knockouts, reading the conditions and sessions and playing accordingly [is important]. Staying in the present and taking one session at a time will be the key,” Rahane remarked.   

The hosts will depend on openers Bhupen Lalwani (493 runs so far) and Prithvi Shaw (269) for a good start. But the struggling middle-order seems to be a concern for Mumbai and the absence of the unfit Shivam Dube, who has scored 407 runs in five games with two centuries, will be felt. 

However, Mumbai are at full strength on the bowling front with pacer Mohit Avasthi (31 wickets) and left-arm spinner Shams Mulani (23) shouldering the responsibility perfectly with Royston Dias (17), Tanush Kotian (14), Shardul Thakur (10), Tushar Deshpande (eight) and Dhawal Kulkarni (seven) for company.

Knockout, a challenge

Baroda coach Mukund Parmar, the former Gujarat captain, who has played in Mumbai for Dena Bank and Karnatak Sporting Association, said he is well aware of how to play on a red-soil wicket, but admitted that it will be a good challenge for his team to play against Mumbai in a knockout game. 

“The knockout stage of the Ranji Trophy is always a challenge. Teams who come to the last eight are the toppers in their group. Since you’ve to face the best teams of the competition, you prepare accordingly. Yes, Mumbai scored five outright wins  which ended in two-three days, but our games went the full distance. Our boys should enjoy this challenge. If you have to grow as a team; you must match up to teams like Mumbai,” Parmar said.  

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