By S S Ramaswamy
Mumbai: Oct 21, 2011
It is always difficult to visualise an Indian squad without a single representative from 39-time Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai in a one-dayer at the Wankhede Stadium here, scene of the country's momentous triumph in the World Cup just over six months ago.
That could have virtually amounted to sacrilege which has been prevented by the presence of performing young Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane in the India ODI squad to take on the visiting England cricketers here in the fourth and penultimate tie of the rubber on Sunday.
With his exploits for the country during his fledgling career at the international level, including grabbing his maiden man of the match award last night for his fine innings of 91 in Mohali in the third ODI of the series, the youngster has kept Mumbai's flag flying high.
The injury-forced absence of Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan from the team, and the fading away from the scene of Ajit Agarkar and Wasim Jaffer, has left 23-year-old Rahane as the lone torch-bearer for Mumbai in the series.
Rahane was reluctant to speak on his forcoming maiden international appearance in his home environs citing instructions from the authorities not to speak to the media during a series.
However, his former Mumbai coach Praveen Amre was effusive in his praise of the youngster who has taken on the challenge of opening the innings with another West Zone player - Parthiv Patel - both in England and at home.
"It was important for him to have got his maiden man of the match award yesterday especially after he did not do as well as expected in the first two games. But I feel he should have got his 100," Amre told PTI today.
"It's important for him to convert 90s into 100s in this particular phase of his career," said the former Test batsman.
Amre felt it would be an emotional moment when Rahane, the 68th cricketer from Mumbai, plays for India either in a Test or ODI.
"It's important to play in front of a home crowd and he will really enjoy it," said the 43-year-old ex-Mumbai coach.
Amre also recalled Rahane's contributions towards Mumbai's triumphant run in the National Championships three years ago.
"He has scored over 4000 runs in four seasons. Three years ago when Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy he made very good contribution towards the victory," he added.
Rahane had scored over 1000 runs in that, his second first class season to help the oft-crowned champions to their 38th national title.
In his first class debut in September 2007 he slammed 143 opening the innings with Sahil Kukreja, who too got a hundred, for Mumbai against Karachi Urban in the Mohd Nissar Trophy match in Karachi's National Stadium.
He made a mark later in the season in the Duleep Trophy too with an innings of 172 for West Zone against England Lions' bowling attack of Graham Onions, Monty Panesar and Liam Plunkett at the Moti Baug ground in Vadodara.