Mumbai’s season went from bad to worse last week in Pune, with the loss against Gujarat at home in the previous week followed by a solitary point against Maharashtra. As a result, avoiding relegation is the primary objective rather than qualifying for the Ranji Trophy knock-outs by registering at least three outright wins from the four remaining games.
No doubt Mumbai has been beleaguered due to inopportune injuries to its pacers. Shardul Thakur, Tushar Deshpande and Dhawal Kulkarni breaking down before and during the season has meant Mumbai had to field a highly inexperienced bowling unit versus Maharashtra. While it will be no different against Baroda in the must-win game, Mumbai will be hoping to turn around the fortunes in the batting department.
Mumbai in the first four games have used six batsmen in the top-six roles. And with rookies Ashay Sardesai and Armaan Jaffer getting the boot along with seasoned Akhil Herwadkar and Suryakumar Yadav, Friday will see two more additions to the list. While Shreyas Iyer’s first appearance of the season will be a major boost, it will be interesting to see how Vikrant Auti or Eknath Kerkar respond to the pressure.
Aditya Tare, the senior-most member of the squad, had no qualms in admitting the lack of performances from individuals has resulted in the batting unit not wearing a settled look so far. The eloquent Tare added that the team as a group has realised the need to deliver to maintain Mumbai cricket’s reputation.
“It’s a time where there are seven-eight players who are playing their first or second season, have not played many games. It is a time where it’s pretty challenging, especially with the position where we are in the table, it looks bad. It is a challenging situation. We had a strong word amongst ourselves after the last game and we discussed it’s important that the individuals step up,” Tare said on Thursday.
“The coaches, the selectors, the CIC, the association can’t do anything; it’s the players on the field - their performance sort of matters in terms of Mumbai cricket. If the players lift their performances up, everything will fall in place. It’s important that every player individually - and then collectively we’ll be a better team - so it’s important that every player individually sort of step up and improve.”
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