Ranji Trophy: Mumbai frets over Gohil’s fitness

A day after drubbing Railways by ten wickets and earning the vital bonus point, the Mumbai camp enjoyed a day’s break. But the team management was fretting over the availability of left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil.

Gohil is virtually ruled out of Mumbai’s next tie against Uttar Pradesh, starting here from Sunday.   -  M.A. Sriram

It has already had a customary one-round break that each team in the top two tiers of Ranji Trophy enjoys during the league stage. It has topped the Group A table after finishing half of its league games. No doubt Mumbai hasn’t yet put a foot wrong in terms of the results.

However, as it enjoys an extended stay in the charming city with a strong historical bond, Mumbai has to deal with fitness concerns going into the day’s play. A day after drubbing Railways by ten wickets and earning the vital bonus point, the Mumbai camp enjoyed a day’s break. But the team management was fretting over the availability of left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil.

The rookie spinner, playing his debut first-class season, has been the find of the season for the defending champion. But the joint-highest wicket-taker for his team, Gohil is virtually ruled out of Mumbai’s next tie against Uttar Pradesh, starting here from Sunday.

En route his maiden five-wicket haul on the third day against Railways, Gohil hurt two fingers of his bowling hand while attempting to stop a full-blooded drive off Arindam Ghosh’s willow. As a result, he bowled just two overs on the fourth morning after Mumbai enforced the follow-on.

While Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit hoped that Gohil would recover “in time” for the next match, the medical staff is fearing the 21-year-old could be out of action up to three weeks. In that case, Mumbai will have to hope for low-on-confidence Vishal Dabholkar to come good against an underperforming Uttar Pradesh outfit.

Gohil’s injury comes at a time when it appeared for the first time since last season that Mumbai has a spinner who could fit into the team in all conditions. In 2015-16, Mumbai was forced to use five specialist spinners. Two of them – Dabholkar and Ankush Jaiswal – had been reported for a suspect action. Despite getting his action cleared, Dabholkar hasn’t looked the same bowler ever since.

Kulkarni boost in offing?

On the other hand, Mumbai is hoping for its ace pacer Dhawal Kulkarni to join the squad. After his ten-wicket haul against Tamil Nadu in the season-opener, Kulkarni skipped the next two games since he was with India’s ODI squad for the series against New Zealand. That was followed by a bout of viral fever, which forced him to skip the Railways game. It is understood that Kulkarni has regained match-fitness and is set to join the squad in time for the next assignment.