Former Mumbai chief selector and captain Milind Rege believes the 41-time Ranji Trophy champions’ hardworking draw against Baroda at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday is just the confidence-booster Aditya Tare & Co. needed as they head into their last two crucial league matches before the knockouts thereafter.
Mumbai managed to not just save the match but also secure a valuable points against baroda thanks to middle-order batsman Siddhesh Lad five-hour, 238-ball unbeaten 71. Last season’s runners-up are currently placed third with 11 points in Group ‘C’ which is led by Andhra Pradesh on 18 points followed by Madhya Pradesh on 14.
Mumbai play against AP next, away, on November 17, and this will be followed by their last league match against Tripura in Mumbai. The top two teams in each of the four groups will qualify for the quarter-finals, and Rege is certain that Mumbai will make the grade. “I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Mumbai will emerge from this situation because it’s a tradition that we always bounce back from tough situations,” Rege told mid-day yesterday.
Rege, who watched all four days of the Mumbai-Baroda encounter at the Wankhede, said he was rather surprised to see the hosts struggle for the first three days before a gritty performance by Lad ensured Mumbai did not suffer an outright defeat in their landmark 500th Ranji game.
“Frankly, I was a bit surprised by the low key manner in which we played because we had a well balanced, full strength side. “At the Wankhede, you have to be very careful for the first three hours on Day One, so we should have played a bit more conservatively [Mumbai were all out for 171 at tea on the first day].
“We went for too many shots, besides, you must never underestimate the opposition. We were a tad over confident to start with,” added Rege, 68, who went on to stress on Lad’s significance to this side.
“Siddhesh is a brilliant batsman. Even in the Ranji Trophy final two years ago, he played a match-winning knock against Saurashtra in Pune. We won that match and I thought it was one of the finest Ranji innings I have seen. “I feel Siddhesh should bat up the order, because playing at No. 6 will not brighten his future. Even the Mumbai team will benefit if they get him to bat higher up the order,” he signed off.