AHMEDABAD: Dropped from the Indian Test team after his prolonged lean run with the bat, Ajinkya Rahane will be the centre of attention when heavyweights Mumbai play Goa in their Elite Group D Ranji Trophy game here from Thursday.
Rahane did score a much-needed hundred (129) in their opener against Saurashtra, but that could not save his place in the Test squad for the upcoming two-match series against Sri Lanka.
The former India vice-captain, though, would like to continue in the same fashion against a Goa attack that is not likely to pose many problems.
Apart from Rahane, another Mumbaikar who would be in focus is young Sarfaraz Khan, whose purple patch in red-ball cricket continues, having hammered a monumental 275 against Saurashtra.
The 41-time Ranji champions would look to secure full points from the game after Saurashtra denied them an outright win.
With a batting line-up comprising skipper Prithvi Shaw, Rahane, Sarfaraz, Aakarshit Gomel, Sachin Yadav and senior stumper Aditya Tare, Mumbai would look to pile up the runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Their bowlers led by pacer Dhawal Kulkarni will have to hit the right areas and the role of off-spinner Tanush Kotian and left-arm spinner Shams Mulani would be crucial if Mumbai are to take 20 opposition wickets.
Overall Mumbai, who are much stronger than the team from the coastal state, would like to dominate their opponents from ball one.
Goa, on the other hand, who also secured a draw against Odisha in their opener, will need to improve in all three departments.
Skipper Snehal Kauthankar, who made an unbeaten 165 against Odisha, would need support from other batters like Suyash Prabhudessai, Amogh Desai and Sumiran Amonkar.
The Goa attack led by the experienced Srikant Wagh will have to be at its best to stop a strong Mumbai batting line-up from putting up a big total.
For Goa, the role of all-rounder Shubham Ranjane would also be crucial.
The other Group D game will see Saurashtra take on Odisha.