Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Aditya Tare returns to familiar territory

If Mumbai has to turn the clock back, Tare, Mumbai’s last Ranji Trophy-winning captain, has to lead from the front in more than one aspects.

Mumbai wicketkeeper-batsman Aditya Tare in action.   -  FILE PHOTO/ SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR


Aditya Tare’s return as captain is eerily similar to his first stint that started midway through 2014-15. Back then, the team was in doldrums and with two games remaining in the league stage, relegation was a realistic possibility. But Tare managed to lift the spirits of the team and Mumbai made a miraculous entry into the semifinals.

If the team has to turn the clock back, Tare, Mumbai’s last Ranji Trophy-winning captain, has to lead from the front in more than one aspects. In fact, knockouts is the last thing on the minds of the most ardent Mumbai cricket fans after successive humiliating losses at home against Railways and Karnataka in its last two matches.

Had it not been for the absence of eight seasoned players, including captain Suryakumar Yadav, who are either injured or on India/ India A duties, Tare would have struggled to retain his place in the squad. Having tallied just 55 runs in six innings, the wicketkeeper-batsman is going through a torrid patch with the willow, just like a majority of his colleagues in the batting department.

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However, he will have to lift the spirits of a largely inexperienced squad during its next game in Chennai. Coincidentally, it was after an innings defeat in Chennai in 2014-15 that Tare was handed the reigns of the team. This time around, though, he has the challenge to turn the tide against Tamil Nadu from January 11.

The task is easier said than done considering the format of the tournament and the form of Mumbai’s players. With five teams qualifying for the quarterfinals from the top two tiers, Mumbai is at the moment placed 12th. The only way up is by notching up outright wins. However, with Tare and Siddhesh Lad — the two most experienced campaigners in the Chennai-bound squad — struggling for form and Tushar Deshpande being unable to lead the pace attack, Tare would perhaps face the biggest challenge of his domestic career.

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Tare is likely to be persisted with as a leader until Suryakumar returns for the penultimate game of the league stage, in Rajkot from February 4. Tare’s big challenge is to get the best out of the players and ensure its campaign is alive until passing the baton back to Suryakumar.

The squad: Aditya Tare (Capt.), Jay Bista, Bhupen Lalwani, Siddhesh Lad, Shubham Ranjane, Sarfaraz Khan, Akash Parkar, Shams Mulani, Shashank Attarde, Tushar Deshpande, Royston Dias, Aquib Kureshi, Hardik Tamore, Vinayak Bhoir, Deepak Shetty.
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