Ranji Trophy: It's back to the drawing board for Mumbai

The constant chopping and changing combined with a defensive mindset has resulted in Mumbai missing out on a knockout spot for the first time in 11 years.

Stumped: Mumbai cricket finds itself on a sticky wicket at the fag end of a disappointing season.   -  s sudarshan

Two months ago, after winning its maiden Vijay Hazare Trophy title in 12 years, Mumbai’s cricket fraternity was upbeat about starting the season well and adding yet another Ranji title to the already swelling tally of 41 trophies.

Cut to the New Year’s day - exactly two months since the Ranji season started on November 1 - Mumbai’s quest for regaining the title came to a grinding halt with a humiliating innings defeat to defending champion Vidarbha, with more than a day left in the game.

So what exactly has gone wrong? Everything.

Unavailability of top cricketers, injuries to key players, loss of form of the supposed senior players, and youngsters’ inability to grab opportunities are some of the factors that have blighted the heavyweight's performance.

Add to it the unwillingness of some of the seniors to put team before self and the inability of the leadership group (including selectors) on tactical as well as man-management front, and Mumbai finds itself resigned to the lower half of both Group A and the combined points table of top two groups for the most part of the season.

Mumbai has tried out a whopping 24 players - including six debutants - and the constant chopping and changing has severely hurt the team.

Defensive mindset

Chopping and changing: Siddhesh Lad along with Aditya Tare and Shivam Dube are the only three players to feature in all seven games.   -  S Sudarshan

 

Only three players - Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare and Shivam Dube - have featured in all seven games and with the inconsistent run Tare has had with the willow, don’t be surprised if he makes way for a new ’keeper in the concluding fixture against Chhattisgarh.

STATS BOX
2 captains: Dhawal Kulkarni captained the first three games, while Siddhesh Lad has taken over since then

24 players, tried out this season with only Lad, Shivam Dube and Aditya Tare featuring in all the matches

2 batsmen with 600-plus runs in the season. While Lad tallied 652 runs from 14 innings, Dube scored 604 runs from 13. To put it in perspective, Priyank Panchal, the highest run-getter from Elite League, has scored 886 runs from 15 innings.

3 five-wicket hauls in the whole season, with Dube leading the wicket-taker’s chart with 21 scalps

Ever since it decided against pressing for an outright win in its season-opener against Railways, Mumbai's defensive mindset was on display. And as the season progressed, defensive turned into dejected with Mumbai appearing a disjoined unit on the field.

More than the losses or the early elimination, what is disheartening is the manner in which the team has performed. For many an opposition, it just did not appear to be a typical Mumbai team.

Tactical shortcomings

Neither of the two captains - Dhawal Kulkarni and Lad - nor coach Vinayak Samant, appear to be tactically impressive.   -  Vivek Bendre

 

With an inexperienced bowling attack, Mumbai required a strong leadership group. But neither of the two captains - Dhawal Kulkarni and Lad - nor coach Vinayak Samant, appear to be tactically impressive. As a result, field settings went for a toss on a regular basis.

It was up to the batting group to make up for the rookie bowlers. However, barring Lad and Dube, none of the batsmen were even remotely consistent. With both the disciplines in tatters, the team was bound to crumble when it came to crunch situations and it was evident in its losses against Gujarat and Vidarbha.

Dube stands out

The only positive was Dube, the all-rounder who was playing his first full season. He was consistent with the willow lower down the order and picked precious wickets in most of his spells.

But in the end, with little support from others, Dube could only improve on his numbers rather than carrying the burden of the team.

It seems the Mumbai Cricket Association officials in consultation with the Cricket Improvement Committee have some tough decisions to make during the off-season. But with MCA in disarray, one wonders if things can fall in place even before the next season.