Ranji Trophy: It’s perform or perish for Mumbai

Mumbai takes on Odisha in a must-win game with an eye on the Saurashtra-Goa match.

Will Arman Jaffer get a game against Odisha?   -  Vivek Bendre

A shortened Ranji Trophy means each of the three league games becomes virtually a must-win game for the teams aiming for the silverware. As a result, for the second week in a row, Mumbai will take on unfancied Odisha in a must-win game from Thursday.

After playing its first two games at the Narendra Modi Stadium’s main ground, Prithvi Shaw’s troupe will face Odisha on the ‘B’ ground, in the stadium premises.

Besides trying to dominate the proceedings against Odisha, Mumbai will have to keep an eye on how Saurashtra is faring against Goa in the main stadium.

With Mumbai leading Saurashtra by a solitary point, it will be interesting to see how Mumbai approaches the game.

Should Saurashtra win with a bonus point and Odisha deprive Mumbai of a bonus point, Saurashtra and Mumbai will be tied at the top of Group D. The team with a better quotient will then progress to the knockouts.

Tough calls

The pitch at the ‘B’ ground has been slower than the strip at the main stadium over the last two weeks. Taking it into consideration, Mumbai will have a few tough calls to make in terms of its combinations. With top three batters hardly having fired, Mumbai will be tempted to look for options beyond opener Aakarshit Gomel and Sachin Yadav at No. 3.

If Mumbai’s training session on Wednesday afternoon was an indication, Arman Jaffer is likely to replace Yadav, with Gomel set to keep his place. Yashasvi Jaiswal, the other specialist opener, didn’t get to bat in the nets.

If Jaffer gets a game, he will be keen to justify his place, that too against a team that has his uncle as coach.

Wasim Jaffer, the Mumbai veteran, has been trying to get Odisha players to spin at least a surprise.

“I have been trying to instil the belief among the boys that we can beat all the good teams.

“We are not here to spoil anybody’s party.

“We want to compete against and beat every team that comes our way,” Jaffer told Sportstar. However, after suffering an annihilating innings defeat versus Saurashtra at the same ground last week, Odisha will have its task cut out to pose a serious challenge to Mumbai.

The pitch at the ‘B’ ground has been slower than the strip at the main stadium over the last two weeks. Mumbai will have a few tough calls to make in terms of its combinations.

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