Mumbai cricket has lost its sheen

first_imgMany years ago, it was said that when Mumbai cricket sneezes, the country gets a fever. The recent happenings in Mumbai cricket have not been great for the city, considered the cradle of Indian cricket. The team that once dominated the landscape with more than half the members of the national team being Mumbaikars is, today, struggling to maintain its stronghold.Apart from maestro Sachin Tendulkar and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, the current Test team is devoid of cricketers who sport the lion crested cap in domestic cricket. Yes, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane are on the brink of wearing India colours in Tests, but the era of Mumbai’s secondstring side giving the rest of the country a run for its money is all but over.One has to hark back to April 1971 to see how a second-string Bombay (as Mumbai was known then) pulled the rug under the feet of their arch-rivals Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy final at the historic Brabourne Stadium. More than half the regular Bombay side was away on national duty and the team, led by young Sudhir Naik, consisted of those who sat in the reserves for most of the season. With Ajit Wadekar, Dilip Sardesai, Sunil Gavaskar, Eknath Solkar and Ashok Mankad away, Bombay beat the Chandu Borde-led Maharashtra by 48 runs to retain the Ranji Trophy.The situation was similar in 1976 when a strong Hyderabad, led by the charismatic ML Jaisimha and which had titans like Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Abbas Ali Baig, Abid Ali and Kenia Jayantilal in their ranks, took on Bombay in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final at the Wankhede Stadium. After having taken a 59- run first innings lead, all the Hyderabadis needed was to bat out part of the fourth day to qualify for the semi-finals.advertisementBombay skipper Ashok Mankad, batting on 89 runs overnight, sought the advice of his father, Vinoo Mankad, on how his team could claw its way to the semis. An eyewitness recalls that Mankad Sr advised his son to stick to the straight and simple path: get quick runs and declare the innings. His final word was that Bombay needn’t try something different, Jaisimha will “win it for you”.The legendary allrounder had correctly predicted that Hyderabad will go on the defensive to try and bat out the day. That is exactly what happened. Bombay won that match by a margin of 70 runs.Incidents like these just go to show that the Bombay cricketer had tremendous self-belief in himself and to top it all, the opposition never imagined that they could beat Bombay in the Ranji Trophy.One has been reading a lot of articles about how the lack of planning and systems are a few of the reasons that have caused a decline in furthering the game of cricket in Mumbai. One does agree, to a point, that the present Mumbai cricket system needs a makeover and a huge dose of adrenalin. Iconic Mumbai cricket tournaments like the Kanga League – played during the monsoons – are not throwing up the talent like they did in the past.The amount of cricket that a young Mumbaikar plays throughout the year deters him from feeling enthusiastic about donning his kit to play the league on a wet August Sunday. This, coupled with Mumbai Cricket Association’s (MCA) state-of-the art indoor nets lying unused (lack of funds is the reason given) is not a good sign for a city that prided itself on having the best cricket system in India.One remembers the time when at any given moment, the Mumbai cricketer could always count on the guidance and advice of former cricket heroes. One would always find greats like Sardesai and Hanumant Singh watching all games in the city from Ranji Trophy to club and inter-office tournaments. The former cricketers thought – and rightly so – it was their duty to pass on their experience to Generation Next, and it worked.The Cricket Improvement Committee (CIC) of the MCA has recently appointed former India captain Nari Contractor as its chief, which augurs well for cricket in Mumbai. Contractor is a product of the Bombay school of cricket – though he never played first-class cricket for the city. The elegant left-handed opener has the credentials in unearthing talent – he was the force behind the famous BCA Mafatlal scheme to find fast bowlers.Contractor is faced with a tough job – to put the Mumbai cricket juggernaut back on track and unearth talent that exists in the gullies and by-lanes of Maximum City. To achieve this, amid factionalism and petty politicking, is not going to be easy. One just hopes that his no- nonsense approach will help Mumbai grow, slowly but steadily to take cricket in the city – and the country – to the pink of health.advertisement(The writer is a former Cricket Club of India captain and Bombay University cricketer)last_img read more

India defeat England by 6 wickets in 3rd ODI at Nottingham

first_imgSuresh Raina celebrates after taking the wicket of England’s Alex Hales (right), during at Trent Bridge cricket ground in Nottingham, England, on August 30, 2014. Photo: APAmbati Rayudu scored an unbeaten 64 as India relied on an all-round performance to defeat England by six wickets in the third cricket one-dayer and take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series on Saturday.Rayudu, who was drafted in place of an injured Rohit Sharma, stitched 87 runs with Suresh Raina (42) from 14.5 overs for the fourth wicket as India chased down the modest target of 228 with 42 balls to spare.Ravichandran Ashwin, however, took home the Man of the Match award for his excellent performance with the ball as he picked up three wickets giving away just 37 runs.Ajinkya Rahane, who was promoted to opener’s slot, made 45 while Virat Kohli struck 40, his highest innings score of the tour so far, as the Indian batsmen had an easy outing against a pedestrian-looking English bowling at Trent Bridge.Rayudu grabbed his chance of making it to the playing eleven with both hands as he scored his third half century in his 14th ODI. He hit six fours in his 78-ball unbeaten knock.Rayudu himself struck the winning runs a two off James Tredwell as India reached 228 for four in 43 overs to fashion a clinical win to the celebration of the Indians at the dressing room and sizeble supporters at the stand.Ravindra Jadeja was the other unbeaten batsman on 12.The visiting batsmen played sensible cricket without taking much risks after their bowlers, led by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (3/39), had put them on top by dismissing England for 227.advertisementShikhar Dhawan was the lone Indian batsman who did not make a substantial contribution in the match which saw home side paceman James Anderson being booed by Indian supporters.Anderson was involved in an ugly spat with Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja in the first Test at the same venue here. India had lost the five-match Test series 1-3.The first ODI at Bristol was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to rains. The remaining two ODIs of the series will be played at Birmingham (Sept 2) and Leeds (Sept 5).Teams:England: Alastair Cook (C), Alex Hales, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Steven Finn, James Tredwell and James AndersonIndia: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C & wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Mohit Sharma.Scorecard:last_img read more