On song Mumbai cannot afford to take Gujarat lightly

The last fortnight that Mumbai has spent in Karnataka has particularly been kind to it.

While it had arrived in Mysuru in the first week of November on the back of having earned 12 points from three games, it didn’t have a settled opening pair. Shreyas Iyer wasn’t among the runs while Shardul Thakur wasn’t among the wickets and pace spearhead Dhawal Kulkarni was down with viral fever.

Yet, in the time since then, it has notched up two victories — one against Railways with a bonus point and another against Uttar Pradesh — and now leads Group-A with 25 points.

All but one of the aforementioned problems still persist as it goes into the match against Gujarat at the KSCA Stadium here on Monday.

Only Dhawal Kulkarni has been passed fit to play. Opener Kaustubh Pawar has 86 runs in six innings and looks likely to be replaced by Jay Bista. Middle-order mainstay Siddesh Lad is out with a back injury and Shubham Ranjane is set to make his first-class debut.

But the victories have ensured that Mumbai has a bit more time to smooth the problems out.

“Not too worried,” said coach Chandrakant Pandit when asked about Shreyas’s indifferent form. “He’s has scored one half-century. He’s a kind of a batsman who likes to play his shots. We will always back that. Shardul too is not a concern as long as he’s bowling well. It’s unfortunate that he hasn’t picked wickets.”

The wickets have instead come from a clutch of newcomers. Right-arm medium pacer Tushar Deshpande has 19 wickets in five matches. Left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil, who is currently injured, has 16 from four.

In his absence against Uttar Pradesh, another debutant Aditya Dhumal captured seven. Amongst the batsmen, opener Akhil Herwadkar and Suryakumar Yadav have been on song.

However Mumbai will underestimate Gujarat at its own peril. Parthiv Patel’s side, which sits third with 18 points from four games, has time and again proved that its whole is always more than the sum of its parts. Add to that the presence of Jaspreet Bumrah and Axar Patel, and Gujarat no doubt has a heady mix.

“There won’t be guys who would score 1500 runs or take 45 wickets,” explained Parthiv. “There will be a few who would get 600 runs or claim 25 or 30 wickets.”

“But we have also realised that if you need to win a championship you need one or two guys to do outstandingly well. That’s what we are trying. In four games thus far, we have only scored five hundreds. Hopefully there will be few in this game.”

The teams (from): Mumbai: Aditya Tare (capt), Abhishek Nayar, Shreyas Iyer, Shradul Thakur, Suryakumar Yadav, Jay Bista, Akhil Herwadkar, Tushar Deshpande, Vishal Dhabolkar, Shubham Ranjane, Aditya Dhumal, Dhawal Kulkarni, Kaustubh Pawar, Sufiyan Sheikh, Balwinder Singh Sandhu (Jr.), and Nikhil Patil.

Gujarat: Parthiv Patel (capt), Manpreet Juneja, Priyank Panchal, Rujul Bhatt, Mehul Patel, Ishwar Choudhary, Samit Gohel, Axar Patel, Chirag Gandhi, Bhargav Merai, Jasprit Bumrah, Karan Patel, Hardik Patel, Rush Kalaria, R.P. Singh, and Dhruv Raval.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 9:02:45 PM |

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