Defending champions Mumbai have been guided by their skipper Aditya Tare and the experienced Abhishek Nayar, both of who have absorbed the pressure on many occasions this season to take the team through. The Parthiv Patel-led team will also be banking on the experienced skipper as well as RP Singh, who played a vital role in key matches for the team including the semi-final.
While Gujarat had missed out on the knockouts by narrow margins in the last two seasons, they have cruised into the grand finale this season. They will be making an appearance in a Ranji Trophy final after 66 years on January 10, 2017. “I think the main reason is that few of the players have gone on to get big runs which is very important. We always had players getting 600-700 runs but there wasn’t anyone getting very big runs so something which has helped us in winning few matches,” Parthiv told BCCI.TV.
“Obviously, we are a batting strong side and there is no doubt about it. Also, I think the biggest thing was that every bowler stepped up whenever it was required. I think overall we clicked well as a team.”
While Axar Patel won’t be available, Jasprit Bumrah who bowled the team to victory in the semi-final will be on India duty. Speaking about the pacer’s absence, Parthiv said, “He has done really well for us, but at the same time, he deserves to play for India. As a team and as a captain, we are very happy that he is going to represent India and I am sure he will do well. We wish him luck.”
Speaking about the senior bowler RP Singh’s role, the Gujarat skipper said, “He is a very crucial player for us and has delivered on big occasions. Even last year, we played him straight in the final (limited overs). Wherever his input is required, he is always there to help the youngsters. He is an integral part of the set-up.”
While Gujarat have dominated their oppositions even while winning close games, Mumbai have had nerve-wracking encounters in the lead-up to the final.
However, the 41-time champions have made it to the final without losing a game despite having to utilized as many as 23 players through the season. “Whoever has come in, has done well. Newcomers like Tushar (Deshpande), Vijay (Gohil) Aditya Dhumal (left-arm spinner) came in and got a five-for on debut. Prithvi Shaw got a hundred on debut. There are few players who came in and did well when they got the opportunity. I am quite happy with the bench strength, which is sort of what we look for. There is no point thinking too much about things that aren’t in our control. It has been a good run. Reaching the final for a second consecutive season is a good achievement, but obviously being the Mumbai team we really want to win the Ranji Trophy again,” Tare said.
Discussing Mumbai’s run up to their 46th appearance in the Ranji Trophy final, Tare stated, “It has been an up and down season mainly because we were missing important players due to injury, or because they were playing for the national team and a few have struggled with their form. There weren’t any changes that were deliberately made, but we were forced to make them.
“The team management and selectors have done a brilliant job of backing the players who came in and gave them ample opportunities. Unfortunately, those who couldn’t perform for a period of time were dropped due to lack of form and a few important players like – Dhawal (Kulkarni), Akhil (Herwadkar) at some stage were missing due to injury,” he explained.
“So far every time we were under pressure there were one or two players who stood up and won the game for Mumbai. That was crucial (aspect) this year because quite a few times we were under pressure. For instance, Abhishek Nayar, Siddhesh Lad, in one or two games (played crucial knocks). So there were players who stood up and got us over the line under pressure and that is quite important. The key factor this season is that we have played well under pressure,” he observed while speaking about the team’s unique selling point.
Reflecting on the area to improve, Tare said, “I feel we have been missing that dominating performances, which can steal the game from the opposition. Having an upper hand throughout the game is something that we have been missing. We haven’t been able to do that in any of the games so far but it will be great if we can do that in the final. A dominating display where four - five or six players are clicking together.”
While Mumbai would be looking to pull up their socks, Gujarat are riding on the confidence of winning close games and outplaying the opponents. Asked if there is an area that Gujarat would be looking to tackle, Parthiv said, “Not really. I think it is very important to go with a positive mindset and not worry about it. We have reached the final by backing our game. We will be doing the same in the final. Throughout the season, we have not worried about what opposition has to offer, we always made our plans and tried to execute them. Mumbai obviously has the experience of playing big games but we will stick to what we can do. It is a big occasion for us. The Ranji Trophy final is a like a dream for everyone and everyone is looking forward to it,” Parthiv stated.
Speaking about Gujarat, the Mumbai skipper said, “They are a very good team and have been playing very good cricket in the recent years. They have been doing well in the limited overs over the last two-three years they have also been doing well in the four-day format so I think it will be a great game. They have quite a few quality players. They have a young side as well and an experienced captain so they have a good package. They are a dangerous team.”