Four days into the Irani Trophy clash between Rest of India and Ranji champions Mumbai, there has only been one dominant side. Yuvraj Singh-led Rest of India made a mockery of the Mumbai bowling attack, which means the latter would fail to lift the coveted cop this year as well, extending their lean run in the tournament that began at towards the end of the last decade. To make matters worse, they haven’t been great with the bat either on a pitch where ROI’s batsmen were slamming balls left right and centre with their eyes closed. In short, Mumbai have been terribly disappointing, and the one-sided contest would serve no good purpose for Indian domestic cricket.
Right from day one, ROI have been on top. Batting first Abhinav Mukund and Parthiv Patel slammed effortless tons. But that was just the beginning and the end of the misery. In between, Shikhar Dhawan, Subramanian Badrinath and Virat Kohli made substantial scores. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Ravichandran Ashwin, the man of the Champions League, chipped in with a blistering half-century to kill Mumbai hopes further. A score of 660 plus was ample evidence of the haplessness of the Mumbai attack.
Excluding skipper Wasim Jaffer and the wicket-keeper everyone had a bowl, and although Dhawal Kulkarni picked up a five-for, it came at the cost of conceding 148 runs. Surprisingly, it was part-timer Rohit Sharma who ended up with the most impressive figures. But that was nothing more than an aberration. Also, the fact that their most experienced bowler Ajit Agarkar was struggling with his fitness only compounded matters. Agarkar could bowl only 15 overs in the entire game and that was a big handicap.
Replying to a mammoth score, Mumbai needed to put their best foot forward, but that was far from the case. Except a defiant half-century from skipper Wasim Jaffer, the Ranji champions had nothing substantial to offer. Considering his high standards, even Jaffer would consider his effort a failure. However, about the rest, the less said the better. As many as seven of the other ten batsmen reached double figures, but not one among them could cross 41. Therein lay Mumbai’s core issue and with it went their any outside chance of hoping to push for a win.
Surprisingly, Yuvraj Singh did not enforce the follow-on. However, even while his captaincy decision could be questioned, the same cannot be said about his batting effort in the second innings. After falling for a blob the first time round, the India Test discard made sure he reminded the selectors of his much-discussed talent yet again. Yuvraj was in no trouble as he played every shot in the book on the way to making a trouble-free double hundred. The innings comprised of 28 fours and five sixes and came off 194 balls. That pretty much tells the tale and paints a sorry picture of the Mumbai bowling attack once again. Apart from Yuvraj-delivered agony, they again had to suffer at the hands of Mukund and Badrinath, who carried on from where they left off in the first innings.
Chasing a massive 782 for victory, Mumbai made a decent start with Jaffer looking solid yet again. With the pitch not playing too many pranks, a respectable batting performance can still see Mumbai draw the game. However, it hasn’t been a performance worthy of a champion side. Far from it, and sad since we know what they are capable of.
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