With the Ranji Trophy clash between Mumbai and Baroda at the Wankhede Stadium ending in a draw, Mumbai’s stand-in captain Siddhesh Lad is now wishing for only two things: result-oriented seaming pitches, and the return of frontline quicks Dhawal Kulkarni – also captain – and Shardul Thakur.
With Mumbai’s chances of making the knockouts hanging by a thread, Lad’s desperation was understandable. Currently on eight points from five matches, Mumbai need three outright wins to give themselves a chance of qualifying.
While two of those matches, against Saurashtra and Chhattisgarh, are at the Wankhede, Mumbai have not been particularly prolific playing at home this season, only managing a high-scoring draw against Baroda after suffering a nine-wicket defeat at the hands of Gujarat. But despite that earlier loss, Lad is hopeful that the surfaces for the upcoming matches are more like the one against Gujarat, where the quicks took 26 off the 31 wickets that fell.
“Our bowlers are back in form, they are bowling well, if we get a good seaming wicket in the next game we will definitely win,” Lad said.
“It’s not in our hands because we have a neutral curator but we believe that at least the wicket like we had during the Mumbai-Gujarat game, if we have that, our bowlers are bowling really well now.”
Lad should know the fate of his other wish over the next couple of days when the team for the Saurashtra clash is announced. Shardul had sustained a thigh injury during the second Test against West Indies which required him to undergo rehab for at least seven weeks, while Dhawal had injured his ankle, ruling him out of Mumbai’s previous two matches. That Dhawal rolled his arm over on the sidelines after day three against Baroda indicated that the swelling on his ankle had reduced, if not completely subsided.
“I’m hoping that Dhawal and Shardul will be back in the next game or maybe in the Nagpur game,” Lad said.
“The team will be selected maybe tomorrow or day after once we get the update from Dhawal, Shardul and Tushar (Deshpande), but Tushar might not be fit before the next game, mostly Nagpur.”