In the end, Mumbai settled for a draw against Tamil Nadu and earned three crucial points in its fourth group game of the Ranji Trophy.
Chasing 212 in 32 overs was a challenge, but Mumbai did make an attempt before the stumps were drawn, with the home team reaching 137 for three.
But Mumbai captain Ajinkya Rahane believes that such intense games make First-Class cricket more exciting.
“It was a very good game. That’s what you want to see in First-Class cricket… teams are going for it (outright win). It was tough for the fast bowlers. We had our chances, a couple of dropped catches… a few mistakes but it’s part of the game,” Rahane said.
As the day progressed, the Brabourne Stadium surface was turning quite a bit, aiding the spinners. Rahane accepted the fact that with Tamil Nadu spreading its field wide and the wicket slowing up, it was a challenge to chase down the total.
“It was challenging looking at the wicket and the boundaries… all the fielders were on the boundary line. The wicket was really slow. We wanted to make sure all the batters were batting there. We didn’t want to go with a mindset of defending the ball. Rotating the strike was key,” he said.
The openers Yashasvi Jaiswal and Prithvi Shaw, however, showed intent and brought up 30 runs in four overs, before the latter nicked behind the stumps, into the safe hands of Tamil Nadu stumper N. Jagadeesan.
“We got a good start. But the message from us was to play normal cricket and after 15-16 overs we will see what happens. Keeping wickets in hand, that was our plan. If we have a chance, if the wicket is allowing us to play normal cricket… proper cricketing shots, then we will go for it. But it was challenging,” Rahane revealed.
With two wickets down for 94 in 15.3 overs, Mumbai slowly changed its approach after Armaan Jaffer’s dismissal and captain Rahane had regular conversations with Jaiswal, asking him to play to the merit of the ball and not rush.
“The ball was turning, it was slow. It was hard to play your shots, hard to actually go out there and maintain your shape. That’s why our plan was to get ones and twos and then go for the win…”
With the race for qualification intensifying, Mumbai would have ideally wanted to grab full six points before travelling to Guwahati on Saturday morning for its league stage match against Assam. But captain Rahane believes that’s the beauty of this tournament.
“That’s the beauty of the Ranji Trophy. You have to give your best in all the games. If you see ours is the toughest group. We have to focus on each and every game rather than focusing on the past or future. We are playing very good cricket as a team. It’s just a matter of those small moments… you have to win those small moments in the Ranji Trophy,” he said.
“One or two brilliant efforts in the field and you are in the game all the time. We are going to give our best with three matches to go. Not thinking far too ahead. Playing in Assam and Delhi…. we don’t know how the weather will be, so we are just taking one game at a time, then we will see…”
Mumbai is placed second in the group with 16 points from four games, while Saurashtra tops the chart with 19 points.
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