Ranji Trophy: Do-or-die for Mumbai

If Aditya Tare and Co. fail to garner an outright win over Tripura at the Wankhede Stadium, their Ranji Trophy season will come to an abrupt end come Tuesday.

Siddhesh Lad (centre) helped Mumbai avoid a big defeat to Baroda in the previous round.   -  Prashant Nakwe

For Mumbai, the last league game has to be won. First-innings lead is not going to be enough as far as proceeding to the quarterfinal is concerned. In such a scenario, the most comforting factor for any team would be if it is playing on the home turf. For Mumbai, however, the fact that it will be playing at the Wankhede Stadium is far from being comforting.

After all, the Group C game against Tripura starting at Wankhede on Saturday – Mumbai’s first against the north-eastern minnow – will offer it a chance to put behind its forgettable home record this season. If Aditya Tare and Co. fail to end the game with at least six points by registering its maiden outright win at home, their Ranji Trophy season will come to an abrupt end come Tuesday.

Tare, who will have to be without the guidance of all-rounder Abhishek Nayar – the most experienced Mumbai cricketer having been dropped for form – admitted that lacklustre showing in home games has put Mumbai in a slight spot of bother going into the last game. Mumbai conceded the first innings lead to Tamil Nadu at the Sharad Pawar Cricket Academy last month, and earlier this month, Siddhesh Lad led a blocking spree that helped it avoid the ignominy of suffering a loss to Baroda in its 500th Ranji game.

Read - Ranji Trophy Round VII: Last chance to cement knockout spots

For the second time in four seasons does Mumbai find itself in a similar situation. In the last league game of the 2014-15 season, Mumbai had to earn at least the innings lead against Karnataka and hope for other results to go its way. This time around at least, the onus is purely on the 41-times champion team. Anything less than an outright win will end Mumbai's campaign. As a result, the team will have no choice but to go all out against a team that’s nothing but an unknown quantity.

Before the four-group format adopted this season, Tripura had been consistently languishing at the bottom of the plate league charts. But with the professionals like veteran Yashpal Singh and promising Smit Patel in its ranks, the no-hoper will hope to make a statement in what could well be the biggest game for the team so far.

The teams (from)
  • MUMBAI: Aditya Tare (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Jay Bista, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, Siddhesh Lad, Akash Parkar, Karsh Kothari, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shardul Thakur, Minad Manjrekar, Vijay Gohil, Akhil Herwadkar, Sufiyan Shaikh.
  • TRIPURA: Manishankar Mura Singh (c), Udiyan Bose, Bishal Ghosh, Samrat Singha, Smit Patel (wk), Yashpal Singh, Rajat Dey, Gurinder Singh,Abhijit Sarkar, Vicky Saha, Rana Datta, Joydeep Banik, Ajay Sarkar, Shyam Shakil Gan, Tapash Mandal.

  • We played three away games and we fared pretty well. We could not get enough points from two home games. Had we got the lead in either of those games we would have been in a better position. - Aditya Tare, Mumbai captain
  • We have nothing to lose. It’s they who need to win. We don’t need to qualify. They’re the ones who are under pressure, not us. We’ll just look play our normal game. - M. Mura Singh, Tripura captain