IRANI-CUP-MUMBAI-vs-ROI-PREVIEW

Ranji Trophy 2015-16 champions Mumbai take on Naman Ojha-led Rest of India (ROI) in the Irani Trophy 2015-16 at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai from Sunday. Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy title for the 41st time in history, but have failed to win the Irani Trophy since the 1997-98 season. Mumbai were led by Aditya Tare throughout the season and has won the title in his first full season as captain, which is commendable. ROI have been dominant in the last 15 years, losing it only four times since 1998-99. Mumbai, who have been excellent with the bat throughout the Ranji Trophy season will look to put in yet another good performance in this match, which will cap an excellent season for them. Irani Trophy 2015-16: Promising players to utilise opportunity to claim position for Indian team

Shreyas Iyer was the leading run-scorer in the Ranji Trophy season, finishing with 1321 runs at a healthy average of 73. Only VVS Laxman with 1408 runs has scored more runs in a single Ranji Trophy season. As far as the bowling department is concerned, Shardul Thakur finished with 41 wickets at 25. Vishal Dabolkar and Balwinder Sandhu picked up 27 and 22 wickets respectively.

Mumbai have included Jay Bista in their 16-man squad after he was dropped from the squad due a poor show in the quarter-final against Jharkhand. A good show in the CK Naidu Trophy, including a double century in the final has earned him his place back in the side. READ: Shreyas Iyer: I should be selected in the Indian team now

The ROI are not short of talent as well. Their skipper Ojha ended the Ranji Trophy 2015-16 campaign with 645 runs in nine matches. He also scored four back-to-back 50-plus scores in the knockout stages and now goes into the Irani Trophy with confidence. Other batsmen like Karun Nair, Sheldon Jackson, Jayant Yadav, Sudip Chetterjee, Ian Dev Singh and Akshay Wakhare constitute the batting line-up. All-rounders Stuart Binny and Shahbaz Nadeem will take up the all-rounders’ role in the side. READ: Aditya Tare: Will be a dream to represent India; I’ll leave selection to selectors

As far as the bowling is concerned, Krishna Das will be the man to watch out for. The Assam bowler picked up as many as 50 wickets in this seasoned was the main reason as to why Assam made it to the semi-final stage. Only Nadeem with 51 wickets finished with more wickets.

ROI have a very balanced side and will be looking to end the Ranji Trophy champions’ incredible run this season. They will however have their task cut out as Mumbai have been in excellent form. They thrashed Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy final by an innings and 15 runs, inside three days. If they click as a unit again, they might dish out the same sort of defeat to ROI as well.

Squads:

Mumbai: Aditya Tare (c & wk), Abhishek Nayar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Akhil Herwadkar, Siddhesh Lad, Sufiyan Shaikh, Nikhil Patil, Iqbal Abdullah, Shardul Thakur, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Badre Alam, Bhavin Thakkar, Vishal Dabholkar, Jay Bista.

Rest of India: Naman Ojha (c & wk), K S Bharat, Faiz Fazal, Karun Nair, Sheldon Jackson, Stuart Binny, Shahbaz Nadeem, Jayant Yadav, Nathu Singh, Jaydev Unadkat, Barinder Sran, Krishna Das, Sudeep Chatterjee, Ian Dev Singh, Akshay Wakhare.

TIME: 09.30 IST | 04.00 GMT

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)