It is perhaps the worst start for Mumbai in Ranji Trophy history. Without a single point from their first two matches and losing out on first innings points to both Bengal and Punjab in away matches — the 36-time winners are certainly not in a comfortable zone.
But do not write off the Mumbaikars just yet. Agreed that Mumbai are no longer the powerhouse they used to be in domestic cricket, but the name Mumbai does send some shivers down the opposition even today. The team is developing, with more than a number of youngsters and only skipper Amol Muzumdar and bowlers Nilesh Kulkarni and Ramesh Powar as the seniors to look up to.
However, there is one record that Mumbai will be going all out to protect when they take on Hyderabad in their third round of the Super League Group ‘B’ encounter at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium here from Sunday, that of never having lost to Hyderabad in Ranji.
Muzumdar is aware of the head-to-head statistic and is determined not to let Hyderabad break their jinx. The skipper will be more than willing to help Mumbai post their first points of the season and is the man around whom his team will revolve. He came very close to fetching Mumbai their first points against Punjab last week with a painstaking century but fell five runs shy.
On the eve of the match, Muzumdar said: “I am aware that Mumbai have never lost to Hyderabad and we will keep it intact here.” The 32-year-old agreed that this team were playing with a lot of youngsters and hoped that they learn quickly.
“We have not done badly this season. The last match could have had a better finish for us. We are concentrating on what needs to be done the next four days and if the youngsters can click, we can have some points at the end of this game,” Muzumdar added.
Among the youngsters, much is expected of the right-handed Rohit Sharma. Making his Ranji debut against Bengal a fortnight ago after having already played for India ‘A’ and West Zone, the 19-year-old has not been able to translate the 20s into big scores.
The stadium at Uppal has an uneven outfield and an unpredictable pitch. “We wanted an under-prepared pitch for the last game against Gujarat to suit our needs but what turned out was something else,” said Hyderabad coach Vivek Jaisimha.
However, with some grass rolled in, the surface promises to be a seamer-friendly one. “It will not be spinner-friendly,” assured Jaisimha.