Amol Muzumdar witnessed two significant moments in recent Mumbai cricketing history, one as a ball-boy, and the other as a player. The more recent instance came in the 1999-2000 season, when Mumbai faced Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy semifinal at the Wankhede stadium. The match is best remembered for a magnificent 233 not out by superstar Sachin Tendulkar, who pulled his side past the rival’s stiff first innings score of 485. Muzumdar played his part too, adding 125 runs for the sixth-wicket with Tendulkar.
In 1991, Muzumdar watched from the boundary ropes at the same venue as Mumbai fell agonisingly short, in an epic Ranji Trophy final against Kapil Dev’s Haryana. Against all odds, Dilip Vengsarkar made an unbeaten 139, but a dramatic run out saw Mumbai lose by two runs.
These are just two of the many fond memories that Muzumdar has of watching and playing cricket in his home city. In the upcoming Ranji Trophy season, the high of performing in front of an adoring local crowd will be missed, as matches will be held at neutral venues.
“You want young fans to watch the stars of that state. For example, if I was raising my child in Bengaluru, I would take him to Chinnaswamy stadium to watch K. L. Rahul, Karun Nair and Manish Pandey. This inspires kids. I was inspired when I watched Mumbai greats like Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri and Sanjay Manjrekar,” Muzumdar, who is a commentator for the ongoing Karnataka Premier League, told Sportstar.
The 41-year-old added: “If you can ensure quality pitches, then you don’t need neutral venues. But, we have to give this new idea a fair chance.”
The Mumbaikar turned his attention to the Tendulkar masterpiece. “Sachin is Sachin — only he could have done it for us. The way he carried his bat was incredible. By God, that was one hell of a knock!,” Muzumdar said.
He rated the Vengsarkar innings as the best. “You cannot get a better Ranji Trophy knock than that. The emotions, the euphoria, the heartbreak — it had a big impact on me,” Muzumdar said.
Then there was the 2006-07 final, where Mumbai — led by Muzumdar — defeated Bengal by 132 runs. “Chasing 472 to win, Sourav Ganguly played a blinder (Ganguly scored 90 off 129 balls), but we won on the last day. We ran a lap around Wankhede, just to thank the fans. There were around 25,000 people at the stadium, which created an extraordinary atmosphere,” he said.
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