Desperate for an outright win, Mumbai has chosen Mumbai Cricket Ground’s Sharad Pawar Gymkhana at BKC over their home ground Wankhede Stadium for their next Ranji Trophy game.
(Above) Mumbai pacer Balwinder Singh Sandhu Jr and (below) his teammate meduium pacer Abhishek Nayar got little help from Wankhede track during theuir match against Uttar Pradesh recently ,Salman Ansari
The table-toppers, with 20 points, take on Railways in their sixth round Group B encounter in a four-day game starting on Sunday.
The iconic venue Wankhede has been in the news off late for its placid track that has given away too many runs and has hardly let bowlers have any say.
The latest being a drab draw that ended on Tuesday between the hosts and Uttar Pradesh where around 1,190 runs were scored and just 20 wickets wickets fallen over a period of four days.
Thanks to the tons scored by Rohit Sharma and Shreyas Iyer that saw Mumbai put up 610 in the first innings, otherwise it would have been difficult for the hosts to restrict UP and getting those three points had the total been below 550.
“Yes the original venue for the next Ranji match was Wankhede, but now it will be played at the BKC. The players want to play at the BKC where a result is possible. The next game is very crucial for us to qualify for the next stage,” said a source from the team.
“If you saw the last four days at the Wankhede, it was just a batting track and there was nothing for the bowlers even if they pitched the ball at length. There came a time when we feared that UP could overtake the total. However, thanks to the hard work put in by our bowlers, it was not possible for them to take the first innings lead,” source added.
So what is it that BKC wicket will offer and that Wankhede cannot?
“The match against Tamil Nadu was high scoring affair in the first innings but it turned around in the second innings. It is not that our bowlers did some magic, but the wicket has a good carry. They bowled a good line and got wickets. The Wankhede wicket doesn’t have carry. We expected the ball to turn on the fourth day, but nothing happened,” he added.
The last time Mumbai played at BKC was against Tamil Nadu in mid-October. The match went down to the wire and the hosts won by one wicket.
Medium-pacer Abhishek Nayar, who took four wickets, had said it was tough being a bowler on flat wickets. “It is tough. You don’t enjoy bowling on these wickets. You just have to keep basics and bowl a tight line on the off stump giving minimum runs,” Nayar said.
Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit after the UP match said: “The wicket could’ve been much better. We thought it to do something on the third and fourth day after putting up 600. We were expecting a result, which we unfortunately couldn’t get.”
The Wankhede wicket came into focus when Indian team director Ravi Shastri made a sarcastic comment and allegedly swore at curator Sudhir Naik after South Africa thrashed India to win the Test series 3-2. The issue was later resolved by MCA vice president Dilip Vengsarkar.
Railways have not been in top form, lying at the bottom of the table, and have lost five out of six games. Change of venue could give that boost to Mumbai team. A win here will help the Aditya Tare outfit seal the place in quarterfinals.