Ranji Trophy: Defending champs Mumbai to face Saurashtra

Mumbai: A cracker of a contest is on the cards as reigning champions Mumbai, who are aiming for a hat-trick of Ranji Trophy title, begin their campaign against Saurashtra in the elite group A division match at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s Bandra-Kurla Complex ground here on Monday.

Mumbai, who won the previous two editions despite shaky beginnings, would look to change history and begin on a good note.

On paper, the hosts boast of a strong batting-order with the likes of skipper Wasim Jaffer, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Abhishek Nayar in their ranks. Team India discard Ajit Agarkar too came good on crucial occasions with the bat last year.

The bowling is expected to revolve around the experienced duo of Agarkar and off-spinner Romesh Powar, with Dhaval Kulkarni and Iqbal Abdullah likely to share the burden.

However, taming Saurashtra, who have reached the two previous semi-finals, would be a tough proposition despite the visitors lacking the services of star batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who is away on national duty.

The visitors will depend on the likes of all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, the experienced Sitanshu Kotak and the impressive Sandip Jobanputra.

Pacer Jaydev Unadkat, who was selected in the national side for the second Test against Australia, is expected to make his Ranji debut.

The match is a good opportunity for Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja, who are struggling to reatin their place in the Indian team, to make an impression ahead of the five-match ODI series against New Zealand.

The squad:

Mumbai: Wasim Jaffer (Capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Sushant Marathe, Rohit Sharma, Abhishek Nayar, Omkar Gurav (WK), Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar, Avishkar Salvi, Prashant Naik, Iqbal Abdulla, Javed Khan, Praful Waghela, Vikrant Yelligatti and Dhaval Kulkarni.

Coach: Pravin Amre.

Saurashtra: Jaydev Shah (capt), Sitanshu Kotak, Ravindra Jadeja, Chirag Pathak, Sagar Jogiyani (wk), Arpit Vasavada, Pratik Mehta, Rakesh Dhruv, Kamlesh Makwana, Sandip Jobanputra, Sandip Maniar, Jaydev Unadkat, Jayesh Odedara.

Coach - Debu Mitra


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