Ranji Trophy : Mumbai test awaits underdogs Jharkhand

Cricket : Ranji Trophy knockouts get underway today

Ranji Trophy : Mumbai test awaits underdogs Jharkhand

Ranji Trophy powerhouses Mumbai start strong favourites when they take on the underdogs Jharkhand in the quarterfinals here at the Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadeyar Stadium from Wednesday.

With the help of four wins and four draws, the Aditya Tare-led side remained undefeated in the league stage and topped Group B with 35 points. Barring the game against Tamil Nadu, where the 40-time champions were pushed hard before they eked out a thrilling one-wicket win, Mumbai’s run-up to the knockouts was rather smooth.

Mumbai though would have loved to bag more outright wins than what they achieved and will be looking to better their performance in all-three departments for the crucial tie. 

Up against a unit filled with potential, the margin of error will be less for Mumbai and they would be hoping to produce a confident show in order to avoid an upset at the hands of their less-fancied opponents.

Jharkhand’s entry to the knockouts came on the back of a couple of fine team efforts. Needing to win their final league game for a berth in the quarterfinals, the Varun Aaron-captained team scripted a thumping ten-wicket victory over Hyderabad to go through from Group C. Jharkhand logged 31 points, with four wins, two defeats and two draws.   

 Saurabh Tiwary, who slammed a double century in the final league game will lead Jharkhand’s batting charge while Aaron will spearhead the bowling attack.

 Jharkhand will miss the services of the promising batsmen Ishan Kishan, who is currently skipper of the India U-19 side at the World Cup which is underway in Bangladesh.

Mumbai’s batting will be their strength, with the likes of Akhil Herwadkar, Siddesh Lad, Shreyas Iyer and Abhishek Nayar capable of churning out match-winning knocks.

In one of the other last-eight matches, Bengal will lock horns with Madhya Pradesh at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.

Interestingly both the captains, Manoj Tiwary of Bengal and veteran Devendra Bundela of MP, were of the opinion that their team had the better bowling attack to take advantage of the track.

If Bengal have India discard Ashok Dinda (31 wickets in the championship this season) and Veer Pratap Singh (15), MP have the tall Ishwar Pandey (13 wickets from 8 games), who has played in Tests and been discarded, to fall back on.

The head to head record between the two teams is one outright win apiece in eight clashes, with the previous match - last year around the same time in Indore - going in favour of MP by virtue of their first innings lead.

In Vizianagaram, dropped from the Indian T20I squad for Sri Lanka, speedster Umesh Yadav of Vidarbha will try to get back his rhythm with the red ball as he challenges a Saurashtra team, having Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara in its ranks, in the quarterfinals. 

On paper, Vidarbha looks a more balanced side with domestic veteran Subramanium Badrinath leading the side. Not to forget the presence of former Test opener and Mumbai stalwart Wasim Jaffer, who can murder any bowling attack on a given day.

Quarterfinals fixtures: February 3-7: At Vizianagaram: Vidarbha vs Saurahstra; At Valsad: Assam vs Punjab; At Mumbai: Bengal vs Madhya Pradesh; At Mysuru: Mumbai vs Jharkhand.

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