If anyone wants to know how demanding the schedule for the Ranji one-dayers has been, Saurashtra are perhaps best placed to answer that question.
For the past 20 days, the Plate Group champions have been virtually living on the ground, having played two five-day matches and then a one-dayer on Sunday.
However, the Rajkot-based team would be hoping to put their weary limbs into action as they take on a buoyant Mumbai in their West Zone match at the GSFC ground here on Tuesday.
Mumbai, with a win over Gujarat on Sunday, have five points from two games, whereas Saurashtra lost to Maharashtra in their first game on Sunday.
After nets on Monday, Saurashtra coach Debu Mitra said, “I agree we have been playing a lot of cricket in the last three weeks or so. And maybe one more week’s rest would have helped. But we have a team of youngsters and they are expected to take this kind of schedule.”
But Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Shah missed the practice session, and sources said he had an upset stomach. But the captain will play the match, they said. Mumbai, with their pacers firing all cylinders, would be hoping to improve their position in the tournament. “We would like to have a bonus point but our first aim would be to win the match. Mumbai may be a big name but in one-dayers, no team is bigger than the other,” said Mumbai coach Karsan Ghavri.
But with their pace bowlers, especially Avishkar Salvi and Abhishek Nair coming good in the last game, Mumbai are clearly the favourites. For Tuesday's game, Ghavri ruled out any changes. “I don't think we will be making any changes to the team that won the match against Gujarat.”
Mumbai are likely to persist with Mussavir Khote as their super-sub. However, their batting woes continue and Ghavri said they are most likely to shuffle their batting order, which would be decided later in the day.
The dew factor and the grass on the wicket has brought the focus on medium pacers. Saurashtra attack will be spearheaded by Sandip Maniar, who leads the Plate Group table with 38 wickets from seven games and S Jobanputra, who is also amongst the top-10 wicket-takers in the Plate. They are likely to go in with three medium pacers with Kanaiya Waghela as the third option and two spinners, Kamlesh Waghela and left-arm spinner Nayan Doshi.
As far as batting goes, Saurashtra have the experienced Sitanshu Kotak, who stood tall amongst the ruins with an unbeaten 73 against Maharashtra. Kotak along with Waghela, Jaydev Shah and R Dhurv would form the batting strength.
Though Mitra said they are yet to decide who would be their super-sub, they are most likely to continue with all-rounder Pratik Mehta. And both teams would like to bowl first. Ghavri said, “But if we do bat first I would be happy with a score of 230 to 250 on this track.” The way all matches have gone in this tournament so far, it would be terrific if they reach that total on Tuesday.
Mumbai: Nilesh Kulkarni (capt), Wasim Jaffer, Amol Muzumdar, Hiken Shah, Bhavin Thakker, Vinayak Samant, Ramesh Powar, Abhishek Nair, Avishkar Salvi, Santosh Shinde, Kshemal Waingankar, Manish Bangera, Ashok Kadam, Rajesh Verma, and Paul Valthaty; Saurashtra: Jaydev Shah (capt), Sitanshu Kotak, Kanaiya Waghela, Sagar Jogiyani, Rakesh Dhruve, Kamlesh Makwana, Sandip Maniyar, Sandip Jobanputra, Nayan Doshi, Bensiyon Songavkar, Kuldeep Sharma, Haresh Dabhi, Pratik Mehta, Seldon Jackson, Nikhil Rathod.
Gujarat take on Baroda
In the other match, Gujarat take on hosts Baroda at the IPCL ground on Tuesday. The hosts have four points from their win against Mumbai in their first game while Gujarat, who pocketed five points against Maharashtra, lost a point after conceding a bonus point in their loss to Mumbai.
Gujarat: Parthiv Patel (capt), Akash Christian, Bhavik Thakkar, Kirat Damani, Vivek Parikh, Digant Popat, Dilip Hadiyol, Hemal watekar, Azhar Bilakhia, Anant Brhambhatt, Siddharth Trivedi, Hitesh Majmudar, Ashraf makda, Jayesh Makla, Sahil Patel; Baroda: Jacob Martin (capt), Yusuf Pathan, Connor Williams, Dhiren Salvi, Rishikesh Parab, Rakesh Solanki, Kiran Powar, Vishwanath Parmar, Dishant Mehta, Murtuja Vohra, Irfan Pathan Sr, Sankalp Vohra, Ketan Panchal, Hardik Parmar, Miten Shah.