Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Mumbai takes on Karnataka in a clash of the heavyweights

After less-than-perfect performances in the previous round, both teams will be hoping to revive their campaign.

Ajinkya Rahane (centre) at practice on Thursday at the Bandra-Kurla Complex alongside coach Vinayak Samant (right).   -  Vivek Bendre

It is one of the most — if the not the most — high-profile affair in the domestic cricket calendar. However, more than living up to the big-match tag, both Mumbai and Karnataka will be hoping to revive their Ranji Trophy campaign at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s Bandra-Kurla Complex facility.

Karnataka’s eight Ranji titles are the second-best to Mumbai’s whopping 41 but in the recent past, Karnataka has been the team to beat, with consistent performances across formats. Still, the visiting outfit is recovering from a poor show versus Himachal Pradesh in Mysore.

Agarwal ruled out

To add to its woes, star opener Mayank Agarwal has been asked to skip the game by the BCCI medical team. It will result in Abhishek Reddy opening the innings either with R. Samarth or Rohan Kadam. Captain Karun Nair had a reason to smile, with pacer Ronit More having recovered from a niggle that forced him on the sidelines against Himachal.

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The Mumbai camp, on the other hand, is still recovering from a shock loss against Railways at the Wankhede stadium last week. Having started the season with a commendable win in Baroda after a forgettable last season, Mumbai’s season was derailed by a 10-wicket loss.

All eyes on Rahane

Opener Jay Bista has been the victim of an otherwise settled yet inconsistent batting line-up, losing his place in the side. With Shardul Thakur set to be on national duty along with Shreyas Iyer and Shivam Dube, Mumbai would be pinning its hopes on Ajinkya Rahane to make his last appearance of the season count for the home team with a big knock.

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While vice-captain Aditya Tare is likely to open the innings with Prithvi Shaw, it would be interesting to see if Mumbai gets off-spinner Shashank Attarde or left-arm spinner Vinayak Bhoir to make up for Thakur’s absence. Considering the flat deck, captain Suryakumar Yadav hinted at including a spinner but an early start — 9am — to ensure a full day’s play may tempt the home team to bolster its pace department.

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