Rajasthan loves the ‘underdog' tag as it hosts mighty Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here from Friday.
“We are not under pressure. Rather, the pressure is on them (Mumbai) because the expectation is more from them,” said Rajasthan skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar, one of the three senior players in the side which had performed creditably to get promoted from the Plate division to Super League.
The trio — Kanitkar (469 runs), Aakash Chopra (539) and R.R. Parida (390) — have immensely boosted a low-profile team like Rajasthan with their batting as well as their presence.
“We help the youngsters with our experience and knowledge of the game which we have gathered by playing all these years. We have jelled well with the other players and it has been a good year so far,” said Kanitkar.
Kanitkar said his players were not overawed and had the ability to put up a good fight against Mumbai, the topper from Group ‘A'.
The pitch had some grass on it and both sides believe it will turn out to be a sporting track. The home team will heavily depend on its pace duo of Pankaj Singh (33 wickets) and Chahar (30), who emerged as the top two bowlers in the Plate group. Besides, leg-spinner Vivek Yadav will play a significant role.
Also the host's batting has benefited by decent performers like Robin Bisht and Vinit Saxena. For this match, the home team has brought in Ashok Menaria — India captain in the last under-19 World Cup — in place of middle-order batsman Vaibhav Deshpande.
Mumbai is not leaving anything to chance and is likely to field a full-strength team except for medium-pacer Dhawal Kulkarni, who is nursing a shin injury.
Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer sought to look beyond his team's forgettable showing in the Irani Trophy against Rest of India at the same venue earlier this year. “Rajasthan has done well this season and the seniors have done well. The Irani Trophy is behind us and we are looking forward to playing positive cricket,” said Jaffer.
Jaffer (728), Rohit Sharma (643), Ajinkya Rahane (447) and Iqbal Abdullah (376) have amassed plenty of runs to intimidate any rival bowler.
However, Jaffer was not overconfident despite the record of his batsmen. “It would be a challenge to face Pankaj and Deepak,” he said.
Iqbal, who has captured 25 wickets so far, will also be a key bowler for the visitor, apart from the star-studded attack of Ajit Agarkar, Avishkar Salvi and Ramesh Powar.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy