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Ranji Trophy: Mumbai, Tamil Nadu set for a heavyweight clash

Both teams have most of their best players back for the Ranji Trophy semi-final

The focus will be all on Shreyas Iyer when hosts Mumbai take on Tamil Nadu in the semi-final of Ranji Trophy from Saturday at the MCA Sharad Pawar Cricket Academy ground, Bandra Kurla Complex.

Mumbai’s line-up boasts of Ajinkya Rahane, Iyer, Shardul Thakur, Prithvi Shaw and rising star Musheer Khan (PTI)

Following the tough stance taken by the Indian cricket board, all the fit players are available for the marquee domestic championship and it will be a star-studded affair. Mumbai’s line-up boasts of Ajinkya Rahane, Iyer, Shardul Thakur, Prithvi Shaw and rising star Musheer Khan while Tamil Nadu has been bolstered by the return of all-rounder Washington Sundar and top-order batter B Sai Sudharsan to add to their already strong line-up of R Sai Kishore, Baba Indrajith and Sandeep Warrier.

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To add needle to the contest, Tamil Nadu is being coached by former Mumbai coach Sulakshan Kulkarni who will be pitted against his former trainee Omkar Salvi. Earlier this season, the two sides had met in the Vijay Hazare quarter-final where Kulkarni had masterminded a seven-wicket triumph with his spin attack.

On the eve of the game, he again threw down the gauntlet. “I’ve told my team that Mumbai cricket is on my fingertips. I know each and every (player’s) positives and negatives. Yes, we respect our opponents a lot because they’ve a big legacy, but we’ll have a good game. They’re playing well, which is why they’ve reached here,” said Kulkarni.

The manner in which the Mumbai batters cope against the double left-arm spin combination of Sai Kishore and Ajith Ram is going to be crucial. The two are on top of the wicket-taker’s charts with 47 and 41 scalps respectively and for all their results, Mumbai’s batting has looked vulnerable.

Ajinkya Rahane’s lack of runs has been the main cause for worry, scoring just 115 runs from six matches at an average of 12.77, and the team will be hoping the adage that “big players reserve their best for big matches” comes true in the semi-final.

Mumbai will be banking on Iyer and Prithvi Shaw to lead the batting. Shaw has been in brilliant touch and Iyer has a point to prove.

Rahane backed his senior batter and said he wouldn’t need any extra motivation to perform. “He’s an experienced player. His contribution has been amazing whenever he turned up for Mumbai. We are thrilled to have him in our team for the semifinal,” Rahane said. “I don’t think he needs any encouragement or advice. He has always contributed with the bat for Mumbai, and him being around other players in the dressing room will also help the team’s cause.”

The pitch is expected to have something for the pace bowlers and Mumbai should have the edge in that department with an incisive pace arsenal that includes Thakur, Tushar Deshpande and Mohit Avasthi.


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