Upbeat Mumbai take on off-colour Bengal in Ranji tie
Having put their campaign back on track with a convincing win against Uttar Pradesh, 40-time champions Mumbai will take on an out-of-sorts Bengal in a group league encounter of the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament, here on Sunday.
Kolkata: Having put their campaign back on track with a convincing win against Uttar Pradesh, 40-time champions Mumbai will take on an out-of-sorts Bengal in a group league encounter of the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament, here on Sunday.
Although its early days in the tournament, Mumbai with 7 points from three games are in fourth position due to a shade inferior run-rate of +0.924 compared to Tamil Nadu's +0.928.
Bengal started their campaign with three points against Baroda before it went completely off-track when they lost by 9 wickets to defending champions Karnataka in the last game.
Laxmi Ratan Shukla's boys are languishing at the second last place although they have played a match less than their opponents.
It will be another game that will be dictated by which team is better equipped to handle the seamer-friendly Eden Gardens. Bengal batsmen have showed their inability against swing bowling as well as their inefficiency in polishing off the tail.
With veteran medium pacer Shib Shankar Paul dropped, there is a chance that young swing bowler Pritam Chakraborty will make his first-class debut sharing the new ball alongside Ashoke Dinda. Chakraborty is known in Kolkata maidans for his ability to bowl marathon spells.
The choice for third seamer will be between veteran inswing bowler Sourav Sarkar, who is known for his wicket-taking ability with new ball or young turk Veer Pratap Singh.
Bengal's batting will depend on the trio of Manoj Tiwary, Sudeep Chatterjee and Laxmi Ratan Shukla.
For Manoj, who has not performed in the first three innings of Ranji Trophy, the Mumbai match will be an important one considering that Indian team for the tri-series will be announced shortly.
After their shock defeat at home against Jammu and Kashmir followed by another indifferent performance against Railways where they managed to scrape through with a point, Mumbai selection committee headed by Sandeep Patil made six changes.
There are two former India U-19s in the Mumbai ranks. Young Sarfaraz Khan, who played in the last U-19 World Cup in UAE has come into the team in the wake of some good performances at the U-23 level.
As a 12-year-old, the burly Sarfaraz had broken the record for the highest score in Harris Shield scoring 439 in 2009 as his inclusion was long due.
Sarfaraz's younger brother Musheer Khan, last year became the youngest at 8 years to take five wickets in a lowest division match of Kanga League.
The other two are Shrideep Mangela and member of the 2010 U-19 WC squad wicketkeeper-batsman Sufiyan Shaikh.
"He's a street smart cricketer and mentally strong... He's definitely in the scheme of things," skipper Suryakumar Yadav said.
On the wholesale changes in the side, he said: "These six players have been performing consistently and we're looking to create a team who can deliver consistently for five-six years.
"Obviously, experience is the key element but there's young blood in the side. We hope to create core group of temperamentally strong cricketers."
In the bowling, Shardul Thakhur who was the chief architect of their win in UP with a match haul of nine wickets will spearhead the attack in absence of Dhawal Kulkarni, who was rushed to Australia as a cover-up for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Thakur also scored a fiery 87 while batting at No 9 to bring Mumbai's campaign back on track.