Home > Features >

Ranji Trophy 2013-14: Mumbai’s instability may have been cause for defeat

© PTI
Mumbai started as defending champions before bowing out in the quarter-final © PTI

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

The Ranji Trophy 2013-14 is down to the final four teams vying for a shot at the title. The defending champions and 40 time title holders, Mumbai, have been knocked out of the reckoning by their rivals from the immediate mainland Maharashtra. Mumbai’s eight-wicket defeat to their long-time rivals has sent shockwaves in the city’s cricketing circles. A structure that prides itself on its unique brand of cricket, is today wondering why none of their sides have lifted the national championships; more importantly, the Ranji Trophy.

The defeat was the final blow in a tough season and Mumbai are sure to go back to the drawing board. During the 2013-14 season, Mumbai failed in the under-16, under-19, and under-25 competitions as well. Compare that with last year, when they won the Ranji Trophy and under-25, but were runners-up in under-19. This drastic drop in performance is what is a cause for concern for Mumbai.

Let us focus on the biggest of them all, the Ranji Trophy. Mumbai started as defending champions before bowing out in the quarters. They almost did not make it and were on the verge of elimination when Iqbal Abdulla’s heroic spell against Gujarat scripted another famous turn-around. It was that very character to fight odds that Mumbai cricket is all about. The ‘khadoos’ nature is imbibed by all players that come up as the system produces those quintessentially tough cricketers. Yet, in the quarters, the eight-wicket victory showed otherwise.

However, one must delve into the reasons as to why a team of supposed character that could overcome the odds and scrape through to the quarter-finals, bundled up.. One may say that instability may have been the root cause. This season has seen Mumbai field many youngsters and an unmistakable change of guard. It was a campaign hit by retirements and injuries.

It all started with Ajit Agarkar, the captain who helped Mumbai win last season, calling it a day from cricket. Then, Ramesh Powar, a senior off-spinner who has served Mumbai with distinction for years, moved to Rajasthan. In a stroke, Mumbai lost two seniors and men who have been vital to their success in the late 2000s. Powar may not have played after a point during the previous season, but could have been handy anytime. After all, Mumbai had to summon Pravin Tambe, the 42-year-old to bolster their line-up.

Sachin Tendulkar kicked off the 2013-14 season with a measured 76 not out to help Mumbai beat Haryana on a seaming track at Lahli. He thus bowed out of the domestic cricket in style and prepared for his final salvo at the highest stage. While he hasn’t played too many Ranji games throughout his career, he did form an important part of the Mumbai dressing room last year. His mere presence was inspiring and he backed it up with important knocks in the quarters and the semis.

The star of the previous season, Abhishek Nayar, struggled in the initial games and was then out of the side due to injury. Coming into the tournament, he was in good touch as he played well for India A. However, his failures when coupled with his injury hit Mumbai harder. He did return for the quarters, but couldn’t do much. Dhawal Kulkarni injured himself as well and hasn’t played after November. The youngsters such as Siddhesh Lad and Akbar Khan too were not 100 per cent fit in the course of the season. Plus, Mumbai’s star batsmen, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane were with the Indian team and couldn’t appear for their city. In total, Mumbai used 23 players during the season. As Taus Rizvi, DNA’s principal correspondent reported, there have been five different pairs of openers this season.

With so many changes, one may say that Mumbai did have their fair share of difficulties this year. But, it wasn’t so much about the odds as much as it was about the manner in which they lost. Maharashtra outplayed Mumbai in the second innings. After taking a lead of 122 runs, getting bowled out for 129 isn’t acceptable. Furthermore, Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Zol completely dominated the bowling to finish the run-chase. That is what has angered the Mumbai cricket aficionados.

History is replete with some remarkable comebacks in Mumbai. In this case, one may recall the victory in 1971, when Sudhir Naik led a side devoid of heavyweights to the title. Consider this: Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Sardesai, Ajit Wadekar, Eknath Solkar, Farokh Engineer and Ashok Mankad were away in the Caribbean to play for India. Yet, Naik led his troops to victory and scripted a fairytale some would say. But, that is what is expected from a Mumbai team.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Dhaka

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Saeed Ajmal’s action to be assessed after two more weeks of remedial work under Saqlain Mushtaq

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test, Day 1 highlights: Younis Khan’s ton, Mitchell Johnson’s riveting spell

Steve O’Keefe and other Test cricketers with apostrophes in their surnames

Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Geoff Marsh and other Father-Son trios to have played Test cricket

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Why did Mohammad Hafeez go for a shocking review?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Saeed Ajmal’s action to be assessed after two more weeks of remedial work under Saqlain Mushtaq

Nepal to host world’s first blind women’s cricket series

All India Public Sector Cricket Tournament to be held in Mumbai

Mitchell Johnson: We need to use new ball well tomorrow

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan proud at scoring record 25th Test ton

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Younis Khan: First Pakistani and 12th overall to score a century against all 9 Test nations

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test, Day 1 highlights: Younis Khan’s ton, Mitchell Johnson’s riveting spell

Younis Khan becomes first Pakistan batsman to score a ton against each of the Test-playing nations

Steve O’Keefe and other Test cricketers with apostrophes in their surnames

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

10 Fun and Festive Ways to Celebrate Diwali

Lenovo RocStar music-focused Android KitKat smartphone with Dolby Digital Plus audio launched in India, priced at Rs 6,499

इबोला : अंतर्राष्ट्रीय लड़ाई में क्यूबा का साथ देगा अमेरिका

Bigg Boss 8 Highlights: Ali Quli Mirza loses his cool and threatens to poke Gautam Gulati’s eye out

Box Cricket League anthem: Surbhi Jyoti, Rithvik Dhanjani, Kishwer Merchant ready to hit a sixer

Google’s new Inbox app is the Google Now of Gmail

इबोला से संक्रमित अमेरिकी फोटोग्राफर विषाणु मुक्त घोषित

Training Queens Residents to Document and Deter Police Misconduct and Brutality

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here