Sachin: Don’t think Mumbai cricket is down in the dumps

While the IPL’s 2019 edition featured 15 Punjab cricketers, including the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh, 14 players from Mumbai were a part of the IPL roster.

Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Dilip Vengsarkar at the T20 Mumbai League launch on Monday.   -  Prashant Nakwe

Less than a week before the start of the second edition of T20 Mumbai, a city-based franchise league, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar urged the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) to schedule the tournament ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) player auction.

“I do believe therefore that the Mumbai Cricket Association must try and schedule this before the IPL Auctions. I know it is a little bit difficult with the Ranji Trophy and the Indian domestic first-class season, but if you do schedule it just before the auction it will make a big difference,” said Gavaskar, the League Commissioner.

“If you look today at the representation of the states in the IPL teams, you will find that the Mumbai representation, and when I say representation I don’t mean the Test players but those who have played first class cricket and below that, I don’t think that is adequate enough.

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"I just asked the statistician the other day in the IPL and I was told there are about 15 players from Punjab. If you take away the Test players like Yuvraj and all that, and you say 15 players from Punjab who in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament were not anywhere near the knockouts. That is something that I believe Mumbai can change.”

The numbers, however, tell a different story. While the IPL’s 2019 edition featured 15 Punjab cricketers, including the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh, 14 players from Mumbai were a part of the IPL roster.

Sachin Tendulkar, the League Ambassador, said the need for reviving Mumbai cricket was to have long-term plans, with T20 Mumbai featuring prominently.

“We talk about Mumbai not doing that well in Ranji Trophy but I feel there is always room for improvement if you think differently and if we give a new dimension to the way we think and we prepare ourselves. It is important not to have short-term visions but to have long term plan and how in the next few years we can start dominating again,” Tendulkar said.

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Tendulkar added, “I don’t think we are down in the dumps at all, there have been occasions where we have gone to the semis and final. I feel with this T20 League’s performance as Mr. Gavaskar pointed out rightly a number of careers started. I think four-five players were picked up by IPL teams to represent them.”

Only three of the 14 Mumbai players picked for the IPL 2019 - Shivam Dube, Pankaj Jaiswal and Shubham Ranjane - were signed for the first time.

League Mentor Dilip Vengsarkar hoped that the local cricketers would put up a better show after struggling to cope with floodlights and playing in front of big crowds last year.

“I was told that quite a few players were playing first time and under lights. I am sure they would have learnt and we will see some outstanding cricket this year with the depth that Mumbai cricket has,” Vengsarkar said.

The eight-team tournament, including the two new teams, will be played at Wankhede Stadium from May 14 to 26.