THE Mumbai-Maharashtra rivalry goes back a long way and on most occasions, Mumbai came out on top – many a time from behind with that khadoos attitude. Having taken a handsome first innings lead of 122 runs, only bad, irresponsible batting could have put Mumbai in trouble and that’s what the hosts did at the Wankhede Stadium.
This pitch that was well prepared by Sudhir Naik, has completely exposed the batsmen’s lack of basics, tactics and mental discipline – so very important to take the next step to international cricket. Vijay Zol and Kedar Jadhav did show mental discipline and tactics but their basics need to be tightened if they harbour ambitions of playing at the international level and succeeding.
Surprisingly, in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final, Mumbai were looking at the experience of Zaheer Khan to bail them out. None in the Mumbai young brigade seemed to raise their hand in times of crisis. Even coach Sulakshan Kulkarni pinned his hopes on the India pacer. “You will see the best of Zaheer” is a statement that implied that he has no faith in other Mumbai bowlers. Now, this coming from their coach could be very demotivating.
On Day Four, Maharashstra were in with a chance if they batted well. Both their batsmen – Zol and Jadav – curbed their natural game till lunch time and very sensibly played out the first spell of Zaheer with a cool head. The over-dependence on Zaheer to bail them out proved costly. In the morning, when the ball moves, instead of attacking, Mumbai bowled too defensively from both ends to keep the run rate down. They expected the Maharashtra batsmen to make a mistake, but that didn’t happen. Mumbai waited too long for that mistake and that was their undoing.
After lunch, the Mumbai bowlers, in their quest to break the partnership, bowled too many loose deliveries, which were rightly punished. This pushed the Mumbai bowlers further into the zone of uncertainty – whether to attack of defend. Zol and Jadhav took full advantage of this indecisiveness and went after the bowlers by playing some exquisite strokes – most along the ground and some over the top. Maharashtra’s young lot has done what their predecessors wished for, but could not do.
Being a former Mumbai cricketer and having coached both these teams in the past, I know Mumbai losing to Maharashtra is a bigger loss than the Ranji Trophy final and for Maharshtra it’s like as good as winning the Ranji Trophy. I am sure Ajay Shirke (Maharashtra Cricket Association boss) will be proud of this victory as many in the team are the products of his Cadence Academy. Maharashtra have shown Mumbai cricket the ground reality. It’s time to wake up.