Ranji Trophy: Railways takes on depleted Mumbai

The pitch is expected to be low and slow and technique would come into play.

Skipper Mahesh Rawat is optimistic of Railways doing well in the Ranji Trophy.   -  v.v. krishnan

For Railways, it was a throw-back to the old days when players and coach of the team would hunt for accommodation before a Ranji Trophy match near the Karnail Singh Stadium.

Thanks to the newly-appointed cricket co-ordinator, Sanjay Kumar, a non-sports officer from Rail Bhawan, utter chaos ruled at the venue as Railway players concentrated more on off-the-field activities.

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'We belong to this level'

Players lugging their bags around even as some of them went hotel hunting showed the co-ordinator in a poor light. He is learnt to have come in for scathing criticism from match referee Chinmay Sharma for not being aware that he would have to appoint an anti-corruption officer for the match.

The season had begun on a harsh note for Railways with the team finishing at the bottom in the Vijay Hazare Tournament – 36th in a field of 37. For a team which had won the Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup, this was a huge slide.

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Skipper Mahesh Rawat, however, was optimistic of the team doing well. “We didn't do well in Vijay Hazare but this competition is different. Not that we are low on motivation but we have our limitations. Also, we are playing in the Elite group which means we are a team which belongs to this level. I know we have a strong opponent but we are ready. We have a youngster (Harsh Tyagi) who is ready to take the step from boy to man. I have a lot of confidence in this team,” said Rawat.

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'Match winners in the team'

Mumbai has come with a depleted combination. Captain Dhawal Kulkarni reflected, “It was a good Vijay Hazare season for us, it was a needed win. We won it after 12 years, so it was a big boost for us. Talking about the season ahead, we need to get back the championships, that is what we as a team are looking for. We have match winners in this team, as well as young guys, who are looking to do well.”

The pitch is expected to be low and slow and technique would come into play on a surface which is guaranteed to test the players' patience.