Mumbai bank on experience against young Suarashtra in semis (Ranji Trophy preview)

January 3rd, 2009 - 6:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin TendulkarChennai, Dec 3 (IANS) It promises to be a classic battle between youth and experience when Saurashtra take on the 37-time champions Mumbai in the four-day semi-final of the Ranji Trophy championship commencing at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here Sunday.Mumbai might feel they have “been there and done that”, but then, Saurashtra, making the semi-final grade for the second season in succession, are eager beavers hoping to topple the giants.

It is a compliment to the youthful Saurashtra side that Mumbai have included the two mega stars of Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan, for the encounter.

The last time the pair played for Mumbai was two years ago in the final against Bengal who went down by 132 runs. Then, Tendulkar scored 105 and 43, while Zaheer picked up nine wickets.

Saurashtra, on their part, are oozing with confidence and optimism that are not entirely misplaced considering that Mumbai barely avoided an innings defeat the last time the two teams met in the league phase.

In that game at Rajkot in November, Saurashtra piled up 643 for four declared with openers Chirag Pathak (170), Bhushan Chauhan (104) and Cheteshwar Pujara (176) scoring heavily. Mumbai then collapsed for 214 and were 157 for seven following-on.

If anything, that game exposed Mumbai’s rather threadbare bowling attack while underlining Saurashtra’s batting might spearheaded by the 20-year old Pujara who is considered an Indian Test team prospect.

Pujara (867 from eight matches) is currently placed third behind Mumbai’s Ajinkya Rahane (976) and Wasim Jaffer (873) in the run-getters list for the current domestic season.

Mumbai would be obviously depending on their collective experience marked by the presence of skipper Jaffer, Amol Muzumdar, Rohit Sharma, Ajit Agarkar and Ramesh Powar.

In contrast, Saurashtra boast of talented youngsters, all hungry to progress to the next level. Besides Pujara, they have all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, the left-arm spinner, and left-arm pace bowler Balakrishna Jadeja who took 16 wickets between them to help Saurashtra win a key game against Hyderabad who were dismissed for 140 and 71 in a low-scoring encounter.

Further, Saurashtra displayed plenty of pluck in successfully chasing a 300-plus target against Karnataka in the quarter-final backed by Pujara’s unbeaten century.

Thus, the encounter is expected to be well-fought on a pitch that sported a greenish hue on the eve of the game. If it remains so, then the quicker bowlers are likely to influence the outcome much more than the spinners.

Neither team has finalised the playing eleven although Mumbai announced their 12 while Saurashtra will decide on their side after taking another look at the pitch.

The teams (from):

Mumbai: Wasim Jaffer (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Ajinkya Rahane, Amol Muzumdar, Rohit Sharma, Ajit Agarkar, Vinayak Samant (wicket-keeper), Sairaj Bahutule, Ramesh Powar, Zaheer Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni and Abhishek Nayar.

Saurashtra: Jayadev Shah (captain), Chirag Pathak, Bhushan Chauhan, Shitanshu Kotak, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindrasinh Jadeja, Sagar Jogiyani (wicket-keeper), Kamlesh Makwana, Sandeep Jobanputra, Balakrishna Jadeja, Jayesh Odedra, Rakesh Druve, Sheldon Jackson and Vishal Joshi.

Umpires: Amish Saheba and Sanjay Hazare.
Third umpire: Rajiv Risodkar
Match referee: B. Raghunath.

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