Ranji Trophy: Mumbai hopes for clear weather in Dharamsala

Aditya Tare’s boys are still in with a mathematical chance to make the cut for the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals as it faces Himachal Pradesh in Dharamsala.

Mumbai

Mumbai head coach Vinayak Samant gives slip catching practice to wicketkeeper-captain Aditya Tare and in-form batsman Sarfaraz Khan at HPCA stadium in Dharamshala on Sunday.   -  Amol Karhadkar

It didn’t need the single-digit temperature, with a snow-clad Dhauladhar range monitoring it from behind the far end of the HPCA stadium, even with the sun shining as bright as it does around noon on Saturday. Mumbai has been under the weather throughout this Ranji Trophy campaign.

But over the next four days, more than the pitch - with yet another placid track in offing, Mumbai’s third in as many weeks - Mumbai will still be keeping a close watch on the weather. Not on the dropping temperatures, the trainer has carried enough hand-warmers to help cricketers deal with the cold, but on the dark clouds that are likely to disrupt Mumbai’s crucial Ranji Trophy Group B tie against Himachal Pradesh, starting at the picturesque venue from Monday.

Thanks to its incredible effort against Tamil Nadu in Chennai and versus Uttar Pradesh at home over the last couple of weeks that fetched them six points, Aditya Tare’s boys are still in with a mathematical chance to make the cut for the quarterfinals. But for that to happen, it cannot afford to lose half of the match to rain, as it happened during HP’s tie versus Baroda last week.

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As of now, the second and third day’s play is likely to be affected due to rain, but the weather in the hilly region changes very fast. Mumbai would be hoping that weather and their fortune changes at the earliest. If the skies stay clear, Mumbai will know it will be the stronger outfit, based on form and confidence.

After captain Aditya Tare and allrounder Shams Mulani bailed Mumbai out, Sarfaraz Khan's monumental triple hundred aided by Tare and Siddhesh Lad’s 90s helped Mumbai chase down UP’s gargantuan 625 in the first innings to head to Dharamsala on a high.

Tare and Co. will be hoping for a similar effort from the batsmen and would also hope that the pacers will be fresh after a much-needed break. “If you see, despite bowling long hours in Chennai and in Mumbai for two days, they didn’t have to bowl the last two days of the match and with this four-day break, I am sure they are fresh and hungry to get back at their best,” Tare told Sportstar after the team’s first training session on the eve of the match.

On Saturday, Mumbai team management preferred to skip training and organised a team-bonding activity that involved an hour-long trek in the hilly region. The pace unit led by Tushar Deshpande, who bowled a lethal spell in the nets, will be gunning to have a go at the home team.

Mumbai will realise that Himachal Pradesh will be a far from easy opponent. Led by a dynamic Ankit Kalsi, the boys from mountains have garnered 11 points in five games so far, just one less than Mumbai’s 12. It showed its talent by upstaging favourite Karnataka at Mysore on the basis of the first innings lead last month and will be looking to surprise Mumbai over the next four days.

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