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Success against Mumbai worth its weight in gold

It was a classic David vs Goliath battle. After all, we, Rajasthan, had finished at the bottom of the Plate Division last year and Mumbai had won the Ranji Trophy more times than anyone else.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2010 23:05 IST
Aakash Chopra

It was a classic David vs Goliath battle. After all, we, Rajasthan, had finished at the bottom of the Plate Division last year and Mumbai had won the Ranji Trophy more times than anyone else.

Yes, we did turn things around a bit this season but how far do these teams from the Plate Division go in the men's world...not far! That’s exactly what Mumbai thought while taking us on in what was deemed to be an easy quarterfinal en route to the final and perhaps, with the trophy in their hands one more time.

They had enough ammunition to ensure a safe and easy passage. Their batsmen were in top form coming into the knock-outs and the bowlers were doing enough to keep them on track.

Rajasthan had done everything right so far which resulted in an all important promotion to the Elite Division. For most teams that make the cut, the journey beyond promotion is considered a bonus.

What makes their progress even tougher is that they invariably play the finalists of the last season, which means the toughest match of the season.

We found ourselves in a similar situation and managed to keep the temptation of providing an under-prepared wicket at bay.

If you're up against a stronger opposition, it's advisable to leave a lot in the track to bridge the gap. For the better team, nine out of 10 times, would rout the lesser opposition on an even surface.

A reason for not going for an under-prepared track was that our strength lies in batting and we wanted to back it to score whatever Mumbai would score.

The second hurdle was the decision to bat or bowl first. While the track was dry and a good one to bat on Day I, we would have opted to bowl first in order to extract anything the track had to offer.

It goes without saying that we needed every little help to stall such an experienced and talented batting line-up. Wasim Jaffer won the toss and made the decision for us by electing to bat first. But what followed left everyone gob-smacked.

Three things were consistent throughout the day — the track played true and along expected lines; we bowled with discipline and the Mumbai batsmen continued to play airy shots as if we were not competing but only participating in the contest.

Pankaj Singh, Deepak Chahar, Sumit Mathur and Vivek Yadav did the basics right, pitched the ball in the right areas and the batsmen obliged.

The team which wasn't considered even a patch on their opposition was suddenly in the driver's seat.

Everyone, at one point or the other, has been humiliated by Mumbai. Such is the strength of the team that they invariably end up on the winning side, rubbing more salt to old wounds. That brings out the best in players to get the record straight, even if it's once in a while.

That's why every win against them feels a lot sweeter too.

Ranji semifinal line-up: Rajasthan vs Tamil Nadu at Jaipur; Baroda vs Karnataka at Baroda. Matches begin on January 3.