Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Mumbai faces well-settled Baroda in crucial clash

Despite the history being on its side, with an unsettled and inexperienced line-up, it would be an elephantine task for Mumbai to script a turnaround in the latter half of the Ranji Trophy league stage, starting with the clash against a settled Baroda at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.

Siddhesh Lad during a practice session in Mumbai on Thursday.   -  Supreet Sapkal

It is one team that should never be written off in domestic cricket. It has reflected in time and again during the history of Ranji Trophy. Despite the history being on its side, with an unsettled and inexperienced line-up, it would be an elephantine task for Mumbai to script a turnaround in the latter half of the Ranji Trophy league stage, starting with the clash against a settled Baroda at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.

At the half-way stage into its Elite Group A campaign, Mumbai is placed 16th in the joint table of 18 teams from the top two groups. If it has to surge into the top five in four weeks, the experienced batsmen will have to fire and ease the workload on some of the younger colleagues and a raw bowling unit.

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Aditya Tare, the senior-most member of the squad for the game, was quick to remind that four seasons ago, Mumbai had been in a similar situation and turned the tide around to not only avoid relegation but make it to the the semi-finals. In fact, it was the match against Baroda - Tare’s first as captain - that had turned the tide in 2014-15. And with the inclusion of Shreyas Iyer - who will be jet-lagged after arriving home from a long flight from New Zealand - Siddhesh Lad’s Mumbai will hope to reinvent itself starting Friday.

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Baroda, on the other hand, are placed much better than its opposition. Kedar Devdhar’s boys are sitting pretty in the fifth position, albeit having played an extra game. Devdhar along with the all-rounder duo of veteran Yusuf Pathan and Swapnil Singh has been consistent so far. To add to it, Hardik Pandya’s addition to the squad will be a morale-booster for the team. The game may well be a fitness test for the India all-rounder but his mere presence may help some of his team-mates to step up to the challenge of facing Mumbai, that too at Wankhede.

The Barodians will certainly be favourites at the start, having earned nine points in the last two weeks, contrary to Mumbai’s tally of one point in the same period. But as it’s often said in domestic cricket arena, Devdhar’s devils will not make the mistake of taking Mumbai lightly.

The teams (from)

Mumbai: Siddhesh Lad (Captain), Shreyas Iyer, Jay Bista, Aditya Tare (w.k.), Eknath Kerkar (w.k.), Shivam Dube, Akash Parkar, Karsh Kothari, Vikrant Auti, Dhrumil Matkar, Royston Dias, Minad Manjrekar, Shubham Ranjane, Bhupen Lalwani, Badre Alam.
Baroda: Kedar Devdhar (Captain), Aditya Waghmode, Vishnu Solanki, Yusuf Pathan, Swapnil Singh, Bhargav Bhatt, Soeb Tai, Rishi Arothe, Lukman Meriwala, Shivalik Sharma, Mitesh Patel (w.k.), Dhiren Mistry, Soyeb Soparia, Pratyush Kumar, Hardik Pandya.