Kotak exudes confidence

While maintaining that Mumbai will always be a tough opponent to beat, Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak said his team’s rivals in this edition’s Ranji final were no match to the one they came up short against in the 2012-13 final.

“See, Mumbai obviously are 40-time winners,” said Kotak here on Tuesday. “A lot of people asked me about what happened in the last final in 2012-13, but we shouldn’t forget that the last time we played them in the final, Sachin Tendulkar was playing along with Ajit Agarkar and Wasim Jaffer.

“They definitely have good players in the (current) side but those three… I don’t think you can match them. We have a good side, they also have a very good side. I think it will be an even contest,” he remarked, hoping that the toss wouldn’t become vital.

Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Shah, who averages just 28 after 104 games, also holds the record of captaining in most first-class games. On Tuesday, he will be leading Saurashtra in the 93rd game which will also be his second Ranji final as captain. “Yes, it’s a very big thing for us,” said Shah. “We have been playing as a team and he (Kotak) has been the coach with us for two years. We went to Plate last year and from there we have reached the final, which is a very good sign. I think the team building is really working for us. Hopefully we will do better.”

Mumbai skipper Aditya Tare dismissed any pressure on the team given their reputation. “Not really,” he began. “(In) this team, barring 3-4 players, no one has really won a Ranji Trophy, so I don’t think we have the right to carry the tag on us that the teams in the past have won it 40 times. We are still young and we haven’t won it yet, so it will be a good challenge for us to do something special this season and for years to come. Because this team is gelling well, the youngsters are extremely good and we have a bright future ahead,” he reasoned.

Tare admitted that Cheteshwar Pujara’s will be the wicket they will be targeting. “He is a Test player at the moment,” pointed out Tare. “He is a good player in the longest format, so it will be a good contest. We have a good bowling attack as well so it will be a good contest. It is not the first time that we are playing against a Test player. We have faced many Test players from many strong teams.”

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