Mumbai: In quest of title No. 42

The only chink in Mumbai’s armour for the last few years has been the absence of a reliable spinner. Vijay Gohil’s emergence seems to have solved the riddle.

The Mumbai team under skipper Aditya Tare is a strong unit.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

A Ranji Trophy title-winning performance one season, followed by a second-place finish the following season — a majority of the teams would have been happy, but not Mumbai. No wonder then that after the defeat to Gujarat in the final last season — Mumbai’s first loss in a final in 25 years — lots of heads rolled.

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Chandrakant Pandit’s second stint as the head coach came to an abrupt end, with another former India wicket-keeper, Sameer Dighe, taking over the reins. And Milind Rege’s prolonged run as Mumbai selector too came to an end, with Ajit Agarkar taking over as the chief selector. Besides, the other three selectors too were replaced to help bring in fresh ideas and approaches.

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The squad led by Aditya Tare is more or less a solid unit. Over the last two seasons, with a number of seniors fading out, players such as Tare, Abhishek Nayar, Dhawal Kulkarni and Suryakumar Yadav have emerged as leaders on and off the field. The rise of youngsters like Shardul Thakur, Akhil Herwadkar, Siddhesh Lad and Tushar Deshpande also augurs well for the team.

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Read: Saurashtra - Batsmen should step up

The only chink in Mumbai’s armour for the last few years has been the absence of a reliable spinner. Vijay Gohil’s emergence seems to have solved the riddle. The lanky left-arm spinner performed exceptionally well in his maiden season. Mumbai would be hoping that he doesn’t suffer from ‘second-season blues’.

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Sameer Dighe (coach): “We all are working hard for the season. We have been trying to get as much game time for the boys as possible before the season. The MCA has been really supportive in helping us out, especially since it’s raining heavily back home. So we played in the KSCA tournament in Mysore, and now we are in Nagpur for the Bapuna Cup. Besides, the MCA has also organised a Times Shield round just before we leave for Indore for the first match. The juniors have got the exposure and the seniors are lending a helping hand to the youngsters. I am sure we will be ready for the challenge, come October 14.”

Read: Saurashtra - Batsmen should step up

Last season: Lost to Gujarat in the final.

No. of title: 41

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