BENGALURU : In the build-up to the Vijay Hazare Trophy final between Mumbai and Delhi, Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer were the most talked about players. Understandably so. Such was the dominance of the big three that Mumbai’s middle and lower-order hardly got any chance to spend time at the middle in the league and knockout matches.
The likes of Aditya Tare, Siddhesh Lad were spending more time at the nets than on the pitch. Their hard work paid off in Saturday’s final when the duo strung together a match-winning 105-run partnership for the fifth wicket. When they came together, Mumbai were 40/4, chasing 178.
Tare (71 off 89) and Lad (48 off 68) had to grind it out against a Navdeep Saini breathing fire, but they came out with flying colours to help their team win the national one-day title after 12 years.
Before the final, Tare featured in eight matches and walked out to bat only four times, facing a total of 48 balls. While Lad played in seven, he got a chance to bat five times, facing only 124 balls. Despite that, they delivered when the chips were down, reflecting the depth in the Mumbai team.
“The lower-order batsmen hardly got a chance to bat and today when they got an opportunity, they showed what they are made of. Me and Ajinkya were chatting with one another that they would win us the game. Tare has got good experience. He has played plenty of matches for Mumbai. He has also led Mumbai,” a jubilant skipper Iyer said.
Though the lower middle-order shone in the final, the highlight of Mumbai’s campaign in the month-long tournament was the performance of the top-order. Prithvi Shaw managed only eight in the final, but he was the standout player with 356 runs in five innings. Rahane and Iyer tallied 257 and 373, in five and six innings, respectively.
Bowling had been Mumbai’s problem in the last few years. This time, the contribution of the bowlers was valuable. Dhawal Kulkarni and Shams Mulani scalped 18 and 17 wickets (in 9 matches each). Tushar Deshpande ended with 15 in eight. The future of their bowling seems to be in safe hands with Deshpande (23) and Mulani (21) being relatively young.
The captain acknowledged that the victory was set up by bowlers. “Our bowling has improved. Since the batting was strong through the league phase. It was a bit of a worry for us how our bowling would perform. They lived up to expectations. We had plans for each of their batsmen, and they executed really well. Not only against Delhi, but also against other teams,” quipped Iyer.