Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Siddhesh Lad ready to lead Mumbai’s batting call
Siddhesh Lad’s unbeaten 71 off 238 deliveries rescued Mumbai last season. @PTI

November 12, 2017. Mumbai escaped the jaws of defeat in the final session of their iconic 500th Ranji Trophy match, courtesy Siddhesh Lad’s unbeaten 71 off 238 deliveries as Baroda were forced to settle for a draw.

Lad, who made his debut in November 2013 against Punjab, has long been known as Mumbai’s crisis man. And he’s confident of living up to the epithet in the upcoming 2018-19 Ranji Trophy season.

Mumbai, who will be without the services of Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Prithvi Shaw, will face Railways in the tournament opener on November 1 in New Delhi with Shreyas Iyer leading. However, Iyer will miss the remaining matches as he will be part of India’s T20I squad for the West Indies and Australia series. Rohit will also be part of the squad, while Rahane will lead the India A side on the New Zealand tour.

“With Rahane, Rohit, Iyer and Prithvi Shaw out on national duties, I am really looking forward to take on the responsibility of run scoring as a senior player. With my experience of playing in the Ranji Trophy for the last four to five seasons, I am very confident of doing well for my team,” Lad told CricketCountry.

Recently, Lad made 48 off 86 balls in a match-wining 105-run partnership for the fifth wicket with his former captain Aditya Tare to help Mumbai bag the Vijay Hazare Trophy after 12 years. That innings has spiked Lad’s confidence ahead of the Ranji season.

“The top order was doing so well. I was batting at No. 5. Tare and I hardly got any chance to bat in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. We hardly got two to three innings where we spent around 25 to 30 balls at the crease. Such an innings in the final really boosted my confidence. Somewhere, I knew that in the final, I would get my chance to do well,” he said.

Having clinched the national championship for a record 41 times, Mumbai had to endure a tough time last season. They were knocked out of the Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy quarter-final stages, besides losing three out of their four Syed Mushtaq Ali games.

“Last season, we were lacking a bit in the bowling department, but this season, Tushar Deshpande, our strike bowler, is doing pretty well. Dhawal Kulkarni is back to form. We have improved in our bowling. Our batting was always good, so this season, I feel that our bowling too will be strong,” Lad said. “Preparations have been really good. We won the Vijay Hazare Trophy. This time we have spent time together. We have been together since the last two months. The confidence that we have talented guys in the team and that everyone is performing. Everyone is on the right track and we are really confident that we are going to do well this season.”

Lad heaped praise on coach Vinayak Samant, who took over the reins from Sameer Dighe last year. “He’s cool, calm and keeps the dressing room atmosphere really nice. That’s what you need to do. You need to manage the players well when they are involved in a competitive tournament like the Ranji Trophy. He’s doing his job well,” Lad said.