Mumbai: Gunning for their 40th Ranji Trophy crown, Mumbai would be keen not only to keep their winning momentum on but also to avenge the quarter-final defeat against holders Rajasthan in the previous season, when the two teams square up in the Elite League Group A tie from Thursday. (Agencies)
Mumbai's hopes of making it three Ranji titles on the trot last season were shattered by Rajasthan in Jaipur, who went past the oft-crowned national champions by virtue of their first innings lead.
Lanky medium pacer Pankaj Singh had grabbed six wickets to help Rajasthan, who had entered the Elite knock out rounds from the Plate league, skittle out the strong Mumbai batting line up for 252. Rajasthan then rattled up a mammoth 589 in reply to knock the champions out.
But, the situation is entirely different now, with Mumbai having started their campaign on a resounding note with an outright victory with a bonus point to boot against Railways in their first round clash.
Rajasthan, on the other hand, had to follow-on at home against Karnataka, before drawing their lung opener to grab a lone point.
Mumbai would depend to a large extent on captain Wasim Jaffer, who has gone back to the top of the order after playing in the middle order last season, and prime stroke-maker Rohit Sharma along with young batsman Suryakumar Yadav.
Mumbai have also brought in Abhishek Nayar, who performed a splendid all-round role (60 and 7 for 131), when they met last year, for the injured Prashant Naik.
The hosts would look to their spin trio of Iqbal Abdulla, Ankit Chavan and Ramesh Powar to earn the bulk of their wickets at the Brabourne Stadium, after hoping for early breakthroughs from Dhawal Kulkarni and Avishkar Salvi.
Rajasthan, captained by veteran Hrishikesh Kanitkar, need to put up a much better batting effort than they did in the first innings against Karnataka to stop Mumbai from avenging their last year's exit at their hands.
Pankaj Singh and Deepak Chahar also need to make early inroads for Rajasthan to apply pressure on the Mumbai batsmen as their bowling attack appears rather thin on paper.
Mumbai skipper Jaffer, however, did not see the contest as a revenge match.
"It's not so. We had lost in the knock-out and this is a league game. We have started well and would try to continue in this vein. Our team is a good balance of experienced players and youngsters," he said ahead of the match.
Mumbai: Gunning for their 40th Ranji Trophy crown, Mumbai would be keen not only to keep their winning momentum on but also to avenge the quarter-final defeat against holders Rajasthan in the previous season, when the two teams square up in the Elite League Group A tie from Thursday.