Ranji Trophy: Saurashtra register maiden outright win over Mumbai | Cricket News – Times of India

MUMBAI: In the end, all it took was 25 minutes and 7 overs on Day 4 of this riveting Ranji Trophy contest for Saurashtra to keep their date with history.
Losing his patience, Tushar Deshpande (13) went down the track and smashed Dhamensinh Jadeja to long on, where a sprinting Chetan Sakariya made no mistake, while Shams Mulani (34) was caught at slip off Yuvrajsinh Dodiya, ending Mumbai’s innings at 231 and triggering celebrations in the Saurashtra camp.
Soon after Saurashtra completed the formalities to walk away with a creditable 48-run win over Mumbai-the Kathiawar side’s maiden outright win over the 41-time Ranji Trophy champions, their coach, former First-Class player Jayesh Odedra picked up a piece of the pitch at the MCA ground in BKC and kept it in his pocket. It will be a memoir he will preserve and cherish for the rest of his life.
“It’s a pretty emotional, special moment, to be honest. We talked about it yesterday, we tried to get data from the Saurashtra Cricket Association as well. To my knowledge, no team from Saurashtra has scored an outright win against Mumbai. It was a really good team effort- each and every individual contributed. We were missing our star players-Cheteshwar Pujara and Jaydev Unadkat, but we had self-belief and unity. Arpit (Vasavada, Saurashtra captain) led from the front, and our players stuck to each other. It was really good to see how the youngsters can make a difference. Yes, I still can’t get out of it. I even took some turf from the wicket (here), because I know that it’s a big thing when you win against Mumbai in Mumbai,” said Odedra.
Quizzed on how his players would celebrate vanquishing Mumbai, the Saurashtra coach quipped: “We aren’t huge beer drinkers, but I’m definitely going to celebrate by opening a bottle of champagne!”
The way Saurashtra have performed in domestic cricket over the years, a day where they would beat Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy was waiting to happen. That they outplayed Mumbai on the latter’s home turf, with a depleted side, makes their achievement truly special. Hoping that their spinners Shams Mulani and Tanush Kotian would continue to make merry, Mumbai thought that they would trap Saurashtra on a turner, but the strategy backfired against a team which has good tweakers too. A classic example was 22-year-old off-spinner Dodiya, who finished with 8 for 129 (4-43 & 4-86) on his debut.
On a pitch which offered loads of turn and awkward bounce, Mumbai were left to rue the absence of off-spinner Kotian, who was ruled out due to a finger injury.
It was another feather in the cap for the Rajkot-based team, which clinched the Ranji Trophy in the 2019-20 season, and then the Vijay Hazare Trophy this time. Twice-in the 2012-13 and 2015-16 seasons, Saurashtra reached the final, only to be outgunned by Mumbai inside 3 days-so this win must surely taste sweet for the likes of Pujara and their old warhorse Sitanshu Kotak, now India A coach.
The loss, Muzumdar said, was a “good wake-up” call for Mumbai. With 4 games left now, they play Tamil Nadu at the Brabourne Stadium, while Saurashtra play Delhi in Rajkot when the next round starts on January 3. “We’ve played some good cricket throughout the last year and a half, but now and again, its (the defeat) a good wake up call to have,” said the coach.
One of the big reasons the Rajkot-based side is now a force to reckon with in domestic cricket, the Saurashtra coach observed, was the improvement in fitness standards. “Even when we won the Vijay Hazare, I said that the only difference (from the earlier times) I see is that our players are a lot more fitter than they used to be. They are extremely fit. Each individual is working hard on their fitness, and that shows on the field. That’s why our fielding has improved over the years, and that’s what is helping us, to be honest,” he analyzed.
This result was another sign that domestic cricket was now far more competitive because all teams were embracing “professionalism,” felt Mumbai coach Amol Muzumdar “Once you start the game, it’s a level playing field at the moment. No team in India (is easy opposition) because they’ve turned to professionalism. If you see the support staff, their way of handling the teams, everything is streamlined. People have started realizing it (the importance of professionalism). Other teams are equally good,” felt Muzumdar.
Saurashtra didn’t have a problem with Mumbai preparing a ‘dustbowl’ against them. “See, the way this format is, if you want to be amongst the two teams who qualify (for the knockouts) from your group, you need more than 24 points. Unless you get more than that, you won’t go through. So, if you can’t make a green track, what else can you do, but make a turning track? You don’t want a boring draw. I initially thought that this wicket wouldn’t hold for 3 days, but the match was decided on the fourth day. So, according to me, the wicket wasn’t that bad. Why shouldn’t our cricketers play on these sorts of wickets as well. To play spin is an art as well. There’s nothing wrong with this,” said Odedra.

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