CHENNAI: Guts and grit are traits that helped Mumbai to be the most successful team in Ranji Trophy history. Coming into this game against Tamil Nadu following back-to-back defeats, they fielded a raw side in the absence of frontliners.
Hardly anybody gave them a chance against the hosts, who were almost at full strength. But Aditya Tare’s side showed character to pull things back when they looked like drifting away and after a prolonged effort, ended with first-innings lead and three points. They ended Tamil Nadu’s resistance 164 short of their total and in doing so, proved a point or two that no team bearing the name of Mumbai should be taken lightly.
“Coming into this game after two losses, our players did well to bounce back. Having made 488, we wanted to go for an outright win, but the pitch was slow. Our bowlers did a commendable job,” said Mumbai coach Vinayak Samant.
Many former cricketers who watched the match criticised the pitch and felt that the system of having neutral curators has resulted in the surface losing its natural characteristics. “I agree with them. We expected the wicket to turn as the match progressed, as it does on a normal Chennai wicket. That didn’t happen. We took three spinners hoping that the wicket would turn. We need to have sporting wickets that provide results,’’ opined Samant.
Tamil Nadu coach D Vasu, too, was critical of the surface. “You need tracks that have something for the bowlers. Playing on placid tracks that offer nothing kills the spirit of the game. Every centre, be it Chennai or Mohali, should have surfaces they are traditionally known to have. Hope we get a better track for our next game,’’ said Vasu.
Tamil Nadu resisted for longer than expected and it took Mumbai 26 overs to take their first wicket of the day. That ended an eighth-wicket partnership of 105 between Ravichandran Ashwin and R Sai Kishore. Ashwin carried on to make 79 that delayed the inevitable. They were all out after lunch and asked to follow-on, reached 48/1 when the match was called off.
Tamil Nadu’s batting has been inconsistent. Youngsters who got chances have not played to potential. “Everybody wants to win. We know how difficult it is to get into this side. Nobody is taking his place for granted. When you don’t get results, it might seem from outside that players are not charged up. But from the players’ point of view, everyone wants to do well. They have to come through it fast and learn,” said B Aparajith, captain of Tamil Nadu.