When Tamil Nadu sets foot on the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium turf in Rajkot on Sunday for their Ranji Trophy semifinal against defending champions Mumbai, one of the objectives of skipper Abhinav Mukund would be to erase the pain of losing close encounters to the 41-time Ranji champions when they clashed in the last two occasions.
Tamil Nadu came close to topple Mumbai in this season’s opening Ranji clash, but Mumbai eked out a two-wicket win on a green top dished out at Lahli. In October 2015, Tamil Nadu had Mumbai on the mat before the hosts held their nerves to pull off a one-wicket win at the Bandra Kurla Complex ground in Mumbai.
Mumbai skipper Aditya Tare would want his boys to show the same fighting spirit against Tamil Nadu this time as well if they have to enter the Ranji Trophy final for the record 46th time.
“It is a big clash, no doubt about it. Anything can happen. What has happened in the past is history. What is important is how well we play in the next five days. That will be crucial. We have played well in the tournament so far and I expect the team to stick to the process and express ourselves on the field,” Tare told HT on the eve of the clash.
Mumbai may have an upper hand going into Sunday’s clash, but Tamil Nadu’s crushing win over star-studded Karnataka in the quarterfinal should be good enough reason for Mumbai not to take things lightly.
Mumbai wary of pitch
Whether it will be another humdinger between Mumabi and Tamil Nadu will depend upon how the Rajkot wicket pans out for the semifinals. Close to 1500 runs were scored at the SCA Stadium when India played England here in the first Test which ended in a draw. Mumbai and Punjab were the last teams to play here and Punjab piled up 468 in the first innings before bowling out Mumbai for 185. Mumbai fought hard in their follow-on to suffer an outright defeat.
Tare, however, feels winning the toss would be crucial. “It looks like a typical Rajkot wicket. It has traditionally been a flat wicket. So, that is why winning the toss would be crucial,” said Tare.
Spotlight on Shaw
Mumbai, meanwhile, have drafted 17-year-old batting sensation Prithvi Shaw in the squad for the first time to boost their starts.
Opening has been Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit’s biggest concern. “It is crucial to get a good start if we have to build pressure on the opponents. Akhil Herwadkar has been solid, but unfortunately he has been injured for the last few matches,” Pandit said.