Cricket

Sorry story of the 41-time champion

The disjointed team failed to get going on all fronts to get eliminated

Two months ago, after winning its first Vijay Hazare Trophy title in 12 years, Mumbai’s cricket fraternity was upbeat about adding yet another Ranji Trophy title to its cabinet of 41 trophies.

Cut to the New Year’s day — exactly two months since the Ranji season started (Nov. 1) — Mumbai’s quest came to a grinding halt with a humiliating innings defeat to defending champion Vidarbha, with more than a day left in the game.

Total chaos

So what exactly has gone wrong in the last two months? Everything. From unavailability of top cricketers to injuries to key players to loss of form of the supposed senior players to the youngsters’ inability to grab opportunities to unwillingness of some of the seniors to put team before self to inability of the leadership group (including selectors) on tactical as well as man-management front... all the factors have combined to result in Mumbai featuring in the lower half of both Group A and the combined points table of top two groups for most of the season.

The fact that Mumbai has tried out a whopping 24 cricketers — including six debutants — and frequently tinkered the team reflects its desperation.

Only three players — Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare and Shivam Dube — have featured in all seven games, and with the inconsistent run Tare has had with the willow, it won’t be a surprise if he makes way for a new ’keeper for the concluding fixture against Chhattisgarh.

Defensive mindset

Ever since it decided against pressing for an outright win in its season-opener against Railways, the defensive mindset was on display. And as the season progressed, Mumbai appeared a disjointed unit on the field.

With an inexperienced bowling attack for a better part of the season, Mumbai required a strong leadership group. But neither of the two captains — Dhawal Kulkarni and Lad — nor coach Vinayak Samant, appeared to be impressive on the tactical front.

It was up to the batting group to make up for the rookie bowlers. However, barring Lad and Dube, none of the batsmen were even remotely consistent.

Only positive

The only positive for the season was Dube, the all-rounder who was playing his first full season. He was consistent with the bat lower down the order and picked precious wickets in most of his spells. But in the end, with little support from others, Dube could only improve on his numbers rather than carrying the burden of the team.

It seems the Mumbai Cricket Association officials, in consultation with the Cricket Improvement Committee, have some tough decisions to make during the off-season. But with MCA in disarray, one wonders if things can fall in place at least before the next season.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 4:58:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/sorry-story-of-the-41-time-champion/article25892312.ece

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