Ranji Trophy 2019-2020: Sharath hails mental strength of Mumbai

Sridharan Sharath, former Tamil Nadu batsman, believed it was the culture of batting long that was the essential difference between Mumbai and Tamil Nadu.

Sarfaraz Khan celebrates dragging Mumbai past Uttar Pradesh's first-innings total during the course of his unbeaten 301.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

Batting for long periods is an art. Here the protagonist shuts everything from his mind and focusses on the next ball. It’s a routine he repeats until he constructs a monument.

Take Sarfaraz Khan’s epic unbeaten 301 against Uttar Pradesh recently. The innings shed light on concentration, game awareness and skill.

Sridharan Sharath, former Tamil Nadu batting mainstay, believed it was the culture of batting long that was the essential difference between Mumbai, a serial winner in the Ranji Trophy, and Tamil Nadu.

Sharath comprehended Tamil Nadu needed a miracle of sorts to qualify for the knock-out phase this Ranji season and it was here that Tamil Nadu’s batting collapses cut him deep.

On and off

He said to Sportstar on Thursday, “The culture of batting long, it is imbibed in the Mumbai batsmen from a young age. They learn to switch ‘on’ and ‘off’ between deliveries. They just hate getting out.”

Sharath attributed this to mental strength. “You see, the Mumbai batsmen relish batting in tough situations and conditions. They absorb the pressure. Their defence is sound, their strokeplay judicious.”

READ: 'Proud of Mumbai for its fightback against UP'

The former Tamil Nadu captain added, “Mumbai wins the crucial moments, makes the most of its ability. Mentally Mumbai is tougher and if Tamil Nadu lives in denial it will never improve.”

Sharath added, “If you look at the bowling, Mumbai is just an average bowling side. But then its batsmen put the runs on the board and the Mumbai attack’s accuracy helps it apply the scoreboard pressure.”

Pulling his weight

He pointed out, “Look at the difference Mumbai’s Wasim Jaffer, well past his prime, has made for Vidarbha which has achieved consecutive Ranji triumphs. Even now, Jaffer pulls his weight and the team bats around him.”

Sharath believed Tamil Nadu’s batsmen needed to have intense nets and bat for longer periods. “In the nets you face four different bowlers in quick succession while in the match you face only one in an over. So if you master your game in the nets, batting in the match would become easier.”

The former Tamil Nadu and South Zone southpaw made another important point. “The Tamil Nadu batsmen tend to play the bowlers off the pitch, while their Mumbai counterparts read the bowlers from the hand.”

Dravid effect

Sharath shared the dressing room with the legendary Rahul Dravid during their India under-19 days. He said, “Dravid’s preparation, emphasis on defence, and playing to his strengths were visible even then. He had the strokes but also had strong fundamentals and the mental make-up.”

Sharath felt the young Tamil Nadu batsmen should have long conversations with the masters of the game to learn more about the occupation of the crease during times of adversity.

Sharath concluded, “If it makes the right moves, I see no reason why Tamil Nadu cannot be on top. But it has to be khadoos (stubborn) like Mumbai and bat big.”

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