Mumbai to take on Saurashtra in Group 'A' Ranji match
Rajkot: The Ajit Agarkar-led Mumbai team will take on Saurashtra in a crucial Group `A` Ranji Trophy match, starting at the SCA stadium Khandheri here from Saturday.
The Mumbai side, which looked solid on paper, however, could not play to its reputation in the earlier match, but has a chance of getting full points against Saurashtra, who will not have their two key players-- Ravindra Jadeja and Cheteshwar Pujara -- as both are playing for the national team in Nagpur.
Jadeja had played a key role for Saurashtra this season in both batting and bowling. He aggregated 794 runs in five matches with two triple centuries and took 24 wickets.
Because of his all-round show, Saurashtra are enjoying the second position in the table with 15 matches.
"Jadeja and Pujara are our key players and we will definitely miss the services of these two key players," Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Shah said.
"The absence of Jadeja and Pujara will give chance to young talent, who, I think, should grab the opportunity in this match," Shah said.
Shah, however, said that Saurashtra will play a safe game in the absence of the two stars and won`t take any chaces against their "formidable" opposition.
In the last three seasons, Saurashtra had put Mumbai in a difficult spot, and on each occasion, the hosts got the first innings lead.
Shah, recalling the previous three matches, said, "The hosts will have an upper hand against the opposition."
In the absence of Jadeja and Pujara, Saurashtra`s batting would revolve around the in-form Sheldon Jackson, Arpit Vasavada, seasoned Sitanshu Kotak, Sagar Jogiyani and Jaydev Shah, while Jaydev Unnadkat and Siddharth Trivedi would handle the new ball, supported by off-spinner Kamlesh Makwana and left-arm legspinner Nayan Doshi.
On the other hand, Mumbai look formidable with players like Wasim Jaffer, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Iqbal Abdullah and Ankit Chawan in their ranks.
Rohit made a double ton, while Ankit took nine wickets in the previous match against Punjab, who are at the top of the table with 32 points from six games.
"This match is an important game for us, because we are behind in the table and are hoping to pocket full points," Agarkar said.
When asked about Mumbai`s performance this season, he said, "Maybe our players could not play as per their reputation and I, too, have missed three matches," Agarkar said.
Cautious about playing outside Mumbai, Agarkar said, "Home conditions generally helped the hosts, but our players like Rohit Sharma and Ankit Chavan are in good form."
Jaffer, Rohit, Rahane would shoulder the batting responsibility, while Agarkar and Kulkarni would spearhead the bowling attack with the support of spinners Chawan and Abdullah.
Saurashtra have fifteen points from five matches while Mumbai have 11 from as many.
Saurashtra- Jaydev Shah (captain), Sitanshu Kotak, Sagar Jogiyani, Arpit Vasavada, Bhushan Chauhan, Chirag Pathak, Saurya Sandliya, Sandip Maniar, Sheldon Jackson, Siddharth Trivedi, Kamlesh Makwana, Jaydev Unadkat, Kuldeep Rawal, Balkrishna Jadeja and Nayan Doshi.
Mumbai- Ajit Agarkar (captain), Wasim Jaffer, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Dhaval Kulkarni, Kaustabh Powar, Abhishek Nayar, Suryakumar Yadav, Hiken Shah, Aditya Tere, Iqbal Abdullah, Javed Khand, Shardul Thakur, Ankit Chawan and Sagar Goriwale.