Ranji Trophy: Depleted Mumbai faces MP in campaign opener

With the absence of regular captain Aditya Tare, batsman Suryakumar Yadav is set to lead the team.

Suryakumar Yadav is ready for his dual responsibility.   -  Vivek Bendre (File Photo)

As Mumbai begins its defence of the Ranji Trophy with its campaign-opener against Madhya Pradesh (MP), life will come a full circle for Suryakumar Yadav. When the stand-in captain walks out for the toss on Saturday to fill in for regular captain Aditya Tare, who has stayed back home for the birth of his child, Yadav will be back in the saddle after a controversial stint three seasons ago.

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It was his spat with a few team-mates during the match against MP in 2014-15 that eventually led to his captaincy stint being cut short to just six matches. But a calmer Yadav is now confident he is ready for dual responsibility. “I have always enjoyed challenges. I am looking forward to my new role. Sure I have twin responsibilities (leading the side and the batting unit) but I will not curb my natural game,” he said.

Yadav will know that he has bigger challenges to deal with over the next four days at The Emerald Heights International School ground, especially with Tare joining the long list of absentees for what would also mark Sameer Dighe's first match as Mumbai coach.

Shreyas Iyer, Prithvi Shaw, Dhawal Kulkarni and Shardul Thakur were already ruled out of the match due to their selection for one-dayers against touring New Zealanders.

Kulkarni boost

But Kulkarni's presence with the squad ahead of the game will be a morale-booster for a young pace attack. With unseasonal rain forcing him to stay indoors in Mumbai, Kulkarni chose to travel to Indore to train with the squad. The short stint will be of immense help not only for the seasoned pacers but also for a highly inexperienced pace quartet going into the season.

Tare's absence will mean Shubham Ranjane, who had been sidelined with an injury after an impressive debut midway through the last season, will get an opportunity to bat in the middle-order, with either Sufiyan Shaikh or Eknath Kerkar donning the gloves.

Confident MP

Even Madhya Pradesh will rue the absence of pace duo of Avesh Khan and Puneet Datey. While Khan will join Kulkarni in the Board President's XI team, Datey hurt himself during MP's win against Baroda in the opening match. Despite the duo's absence coach Harvinder Singh sounded confident of continuing in the same vein against the domestic heavyweight.

The teams (from):

Mumbai: Suryakumar Yadav (c), Akhil Herwadkar, Jay Bista, Siddhesh Lad, Shubham Ranjane, Abhishek Nayar, Vijay Gohil, Akash Parkar, Royston Dias, Minad Manjrekar, Aditya Dhumal, Shivam Malhotra, Sufiyan Shaikh (wk), Eknath Kerkar.

Madhya Pradesh: Devendra Bundela (c), Harpeet Singh, Ankit Sharma, Ankit Dane, Mihir Hirwani, Saransh Jain, Naman Ojha (wk), Ishwar Pandey, Rajat Patidar, Chandrakant Sakure, Shubham Sharma, Aditya Shrivastava, Anshul Tripathi, Waseem Ahmed, Ankush Kushwaha.

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