shardul thakur
Shardul Thakur (IANS Photo)

Mumbai face a daunting task when they take on Ranji Trophy champions Vidarbha in Nagpur from Saturday in a must-win Elite Group A game.

41-time champions Mumbai’s chances to qualify for the quarter-finals depend on the result as they need an outright win to stay on course. Mumbai are languishing at the 14th spot in the combined Groups A and B standings with 11 points from six games.

They have played six games this season but haven’t been able to win a single match. But the domestic giants will be bolstered by the return of their two key pacers — Shardul Thakur and Tushar Deshpande — for the game against the reigning champions.

Mumbai batsmen will also need to step up and deliver for their side and for skipper Siddhesh Lad, who has been in good form. Lad, who has slammed two hundreds (one each against Baroda and Saurashtra), will like to continue from where he left off in the last encounter.

But he needs support of other batsmen — Shreyas Iyer, Jay Bista, Vikrant Auti and experienced Aditya Tare — to post a challenging total at the VCA Stadium in Jamatha on the outskirts of the city.

Even the role of in-form allrounders Shivam Dubey and Shubham Ranjane will be crucial for the visitors. But standing in their way are Vidarbha, who are in third position with 21 points in their kitty.

Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal and veteran Wasim Jaffer are among runs and it will be a difficult task for Mumbai to stop them. Vidarbha’s bowlers too have been putting the opposition on the mat and, in such circumstances, Mumbai have their task cut out.

Among other Elite Group A games, Karnataka will take on Chhattisgarh at Alur near Bengaluru, Maharashtra will face Gujarat at the MCA Stadium in Pune and Railways will clash with Baroda at the Karnail Singh Stadium in New Delhi.