It has been seven years and six seasons since Mumbai won its last Ranji Trophy title. After finishing as the runner-up last season, the expectations were high this time around, with Ajinkya Rahane leading the team.
But in the end, it was another disappointing season as the 41-time-champion side failed to make it to the quarterfinals. While there were some brilliant individual performances, the team failed to step up when it mattered most, and Rahane believes the players should put the team first.
“There are a lot of areas we need to focus on,” Rahane said after playing out a draw against Maharashtra in its last group league fixture on Friday. “Fitness is the key for these guys. If they can work on their fitness, if they can think about playing for the team [it would benefit]. It’s natural as a human being that you think about doing well for yourself, but in the larger picture, you want to do well for your team,” Rahane said.
“No one is bigger than your team, so it’s a great learning lesson for all these guys. I feel fitness and playing as a unit is really important.”
Over the last few weeks, several Mumbai cricketers - Prithvi Shaw, Rahane, Sarfaraz Khan, Shams Mulani - have put up fine shows but the side just fell short of the knockouts.
“I am extremely disappointed that we could not qualify for the knockouts. This bunch definitely takes red-ball cricket seriously. And my message to everyone is that you should enjoy four-day cricket. Everyone wants instant success but patience, focus and determination is critical for this format,” he said.
Rahane believes it is important for youngsters to maintain discipline on and off the field.
“Not only on the field but the daily routine that we follow - getting up early, the warm-ups, going through the rigour even if you haven’t performed, to be disciplined all through four days, backing your teammates - one has to enjoy all these aspects. Only scoring runs or picking wickets is not important. That’s temporary but the real fun is when you follow the process day in and day out,” he said.
“Things don’t go your way in two-three games. But there are many boys who enjoy going through it in the red-ball format. And I have told all of them that you have to enjoy every moment because this is real cricket.”
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