Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Mumbai selectors need to make tough calls

With Suryakumar Yadav, Prithvi Shaw and Ajinkya Rahane set to miss the next few games due to national duties, it’s time for blooding in youngsters.

Mumbai captain Suryakumar Yadav (right) with coach Vinayak Samant.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

 

Mumbai is synonymous with its rich legacy of batsmanship and dominating the Ranji Trophy, the premier red ball tournament in domestic cricket. As the league stage nears its halfway mark, let alone dominating, the most successful team is struggling to be even competent in the top flight.

After starting the tournament with a creditable win against Baroda away from home last month, the last two weeks have seen Mumbai slide from bad to worse. The shock defeat to Railways at Wankhede in less than three days was a wake-up call, but the team just couldn’t recover. It slid to yet another three-day defeat against a formidable Karnataka outfit.

Suffering successive outright losses in a season for only the second time in the Ranji Trophy history, one fails to understand the reason behind the meek surrender. Despite a plethora of changes from a mediocre last season — with a new set of office-bearers, selectors and captain — the team has found ways to unearth new lows instead of improving its performances.

READ| Hanuma Vihari, K. S. Bharat steer Andhra to six-wicket win

Barring captain Suryakumar Yadav, Mumbai hasn’t seen any of its specialist batsmen delivering the goods consistently. Prithvi Shaw did score a match-winning double hundred against Baroda but his surprise pull-out from the Karnataka game midway, after an injury, didn’t help his side.

Ajinkya Rahane, the India vice-captain who returned to the Ranji set-up after two years, has looked woefully out of form. Siddhesh Lad, who represented India A recently and Aditya Tare, whose elevation to vice-captaincy after being dropped last season hasn’t resulted in a turnaround with the bat.

The selectors will be forced to look at other options with Rahane, Shaw and Surya set to be unavailable due to national duties. It’s high time the Milind Rege-led selection committee bloods in left-handed opener Bhupen Lalwani, who has amassed 650-plus runs in four matches for Mumbai U-23 in the Col. C.K. Nayudu Trophy.

READ| Hyderabad beats Kerala to earn first win of season

As for the bowling department, while the spin duo of Shams Mulani and Shashank Attarde have justified their place so far, it is high time the selectors look for fresh legs. Someone like Deepak Shetty, who featured in both the losses, has looked woefully short of first-class cricket standards both with the ball, and on the field.

If Mumbai has to live up to its billing and script a turnaround as hoped by Surya after a drubbing against Karnataka, the selectors have to make strong calls in its meeting on Wednesday to finalise the squad for the next game versus Tamil Nadu.

MCA calls meeting on January 10

In an effort to dig deeper into the performance across all of Mumbai’s teams in domestic cricket, MCA president Vijay Patil has convened a meeting with various selection committees on January 10. Despite a newly elected administrative set-up having taken over at MCA in October, allegations of outside influence while selecting the teams have been on the rise in the last three months. It is understood that Patil has decided to listen to the issues from all the selectors together and make an effort to find solutions to the problem.