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Ranji Trophy 2013-14 Preview: Mumbai take on Odisha at Wankhede Stadium

Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer hopes for an improved performance from his team © Getty Images

Mumbai: Dec 13, 2013


After being jolted by laggards Jharkhand in the previous game, a depleted Mumbai would look to regroup and seal their place in the quarterfinals with an outright victory when they take on Odisha in their Group A Ranji Trophy league clash, starting in Mumbai on Saturday.


Table-toppers and defending champions Mumbai have 20 points from five games, while Odisha, who have 10 points from five outings, would be keen to upset their applecart.


The 40-time champions survived anxious moments against minnows Jharkhand to eke out a draw and they would be desperate to put up a better performance in their last home match of the league stage at the Wankhede Stadium.


“Last game was a wake up call. On the first day we were in a pretty good position but Saurabh Tiwary played a blinder kind of an innings, so if somebody scores 238 out of 350, you have got to give credit to him. We need to pull it up again.


We need to win this game,” Mumbai captain Wasim Jaffer said.


“We look to get a lot of points out of this game, which will probably see us through to the knockouts,” he added.


The hosts would rely heavily on seasoned player Jaffer (360 runs) and wicketkeeper Aditya Tare (509 runs) to pile up a big total.


The holders must be a bit concerned over the poor form of opener Kaustubh Pawar, who was dropped from the previous match, as well as Sushant Marathe, who replaced him against Jharkhand, and got a pair.


“Kaustubh hasn’t done much so he was dropped, Sushant is playing after a couple of seasons. Siddhesh (Lad) is playing his first season. We are quite young in batting department but they are all talented. They just need to click and need just one good innings to get their confidence back,” Jaffer said.


Mumbai have the likes of left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar, who is the top wicket-taker with 26 victims, in their ranks, while 42-year-old leg spinner Pravin Tambe could get his maiden first class game.


“We might look to play him (Tambe). He is an experienced guy and obviously the leg spinner brings a lot of variety as well and he can also bat so that gives us a lot of cushion. We haven’t decided our playing 11 but I am sure he is a strong contender,” Jaffer remarked.


The host team’s bowling looks below par and by the Mumbai skipper’s own admission, Shardul Thakur (nine wickets) and Javed Khan (13 wickets) have done well only in patches.


“Vishal Dabholkar has done really well this season. He is the lone spinner but he has come out really well. The fast bowlers Javed and Shardul have done well in patches. It will be a challenge to get the best out of them,” Jaffer said.


The defending champions are missing the services of key players like Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Zaheer Khan along with Dhawal Kulkarni and Abhishek Nayar who are injured.


“This side is pretty young and we are missing lot of senior players. So apart from myself there is hardly anybody who has put in a lot of years. They are still quite talented and we are going with a positive mindset,” Jaffer said.


Mumbai have replaced their captain twice after Zaheer Khan left for India duty and Nayar, who had initially brought in his him, was injured after the previous game.


“Only the captains have changed. Zaheer was there before and now Abhishek is injured, so I have come. I don’t think it will make much difference. Getting the best out of the talented players will be a challenge,” the former India player said.


Jaffer added that his team wouldn’t take the opponents lightly.


Odisha, on the other hand, would look to draw confidence from Jharkhand’s performance and try to create problems the hosts.


Captain Biplab Samantray (299 runs), Abhilash Mallick (344 runs), Natraj Behera (195 runs), Niranjan Behera (288) are the team’s batting mainstay and they are expected to get Disha to a good first innings total.


“There is an outside chance (to beat Mumbai), especially the last match has proved that if Jharkhand can take an innings lead from Mumbai then why shouldn’t we. We had also defeated Jharkhand, so we have that confidence and looking forward to a good match,” Samantray said.


Pacer Basant Mohanty has been their strike bowler with 22 wickets in five games, including three five-wicket hauls.


“He is a great bowler and an asset for the team. We are lucky to have him in our team. He is also bowling well this season,” the visiting team captain said.


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