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UP against Ranji stalwarts

The mere presence of Sachin Tendulkar and Wasim Jaffer should send shivers down the spines of Uttar Pradesh’s players, reports G Krishnan.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2009 00:02 IST
G Krishnan

The mere presence of Sachin Tendulkar and Wasim Jaffer should send shivers down the spines of Uttar Pradesh’s players. Forget about being big names, the accomplishments of the two for Mumbai in Ranji finals says a lot. And when they turn out in Mumbai colours with the lion adorning their sleeve closest to the heart, Mumbai can be excused for feeling that the battle is already half won.

Tendulkar and Jaffer hold the key to Mumbai’s success and glimpses of this were evident in the semifinal against Saurashtra where they came together for the first time this season.

What’s astonishing is the manner in which they have taken their success at the international level and used it to transform their state side into champions.

Jaffer, now the leading scorer in Ranji this season with 1174 runs, is the undisputed king of domestic cricket. This has been his best Ranji season in his 12-year career and he is keen to round it off by leading Mumbai to their 38th crown in his first season as captain.

Tendulkar and Jaffer, both superstars in their own right, raise their level when it comes to the crucial stages of Ranji Trophy.

They lead by example, scoring heavily and inspiring the rest of the team to raise their standards.

The duo has hardly tasted defeat in Ranji Trophy. They have themselves delivered the knock-out punches and have rarely tasted anything but victory. Tendulkar, barring the two-run defeat Mumbai suffered at the hands of Haryana in that memorable 1990-91 final, has never been on a losing Ranji side since his international debut nineteen seasons ago. Tendulkar loves to play for Mumbai and it is to his credit that he makes himself available to play whenever the opportunity arises.

“We have been inspired by the greats of Mumbai cricket. If those greats had not dreamt big, Mumbai would not have won 37 Ranji titles. We will do our best to inspire the next generation cricketers,” Tendulkar said on Friday.

Jaffer, in the five Ranji finals that he has been part of since his debut season in 1996-97, has never been on the losing side. He has himself scored heavily in each of those five finals that the starts he provides have shaped the fate of the match.

Given the manner in which they score runs - almost effortlessly at times - the pair could simply choke the one-time Ranji champions led by Mohammad Kaif.

Uttar Pradesh team manager Ashish Winston Zaidi could only chuckle when reminded of the damage Tendulkar and Jaffer could cause. “It should be an interesting match,” was all he said.