Haryana v Mumbai, Ranji Trophy, Group A, 4th day October 30, 2013

Ranji opener 'perfect preparation' for Tendulkar for WI Tests - Zaheer

Mumbai's Ranji Trophy match against Haryana was "perfect preparation" for Sachin Tendulkar ahead of his farewell Test series against West Indies, Zaheer Khan has said. Tendulkar made an unbeaten 79 in his last domestic match as Mumbai chased down 240 on a grassy pitch. Zaheer, the Mumbai captain, also praised the Chaudhry Bansi Lal Stadium pitch, saying such result-oriented surfaces could only help cricket.

"Like I said before the game, this match was an important one for Sachin in light of the two Tests he's going to play," Zaheer said. "The practice he got in this game against a disciplined Haryana attack was perfect preparation for the Tests."

Zaheer said Tendulkar's team-mates want him to enjoy his final two games, just like he had taken pleasure in playing cricket over the course of his career. "If I had to say something to him, it would be: 'Make the most of it, enjoy these last two games.' We'll enjoy watching him bat.

"It's difficult to sum it up. It has been special. He has been a special player. An all-time great. His record speaks for itself. He has been a master of batting."

Tendulkar's final Ranji game was a tight scrap, both sides holding the advantage at various times before Mumbai finally plodded home with four wickets to spare on the final morning. Zaheer said it was the pitch that had enabled such a contest. "When there's an outright result, it's always good. This game definitely shows that good pitches produce interesting games. This is an encouraging sign, to see result-producing wickets such as this one.

"The match went the distance and till the end you were not sure who was winning. This was a very good wicket for cricket. Match practice is the best practice. If matches are played on wickets like this one, the game will benefit. If you produce good, result-oriented wickets, it's going to help cricket."

Zaheer commended the Haryana captain, Ajay Jadeja, for the way he led during the chase. Tendulkar and Dhawal Kulkarni were made to work for almost two hours to make the 39 runs Mumbai needed on the fourth day. "Ajay led well. The bowling changes, the pressure they put on us, the field placings, the discipline they maintained, I felt Ajay was influential there. This Haryana side is a young side, so the knowledge and experience he has will definitely help them."

Mumbai had bowled out Haryana for 134 in an extended opening session on day one but themselves crumbled for 136 on the second morning against Joginder Sharma. Zaheer said Joginder's four wickets in four overs turned the match but he was glad Mumbai displayed character in the chase. "I felt that we were in the driver's seat till the end of the first day. The second morning was crucial but Joginder Sharma produced a brilliant spell to get them back in the game. I felt that we could have sealed the game there if we had taken a decent lead. That didn't happen.

"I'm happy with the way we fought in the second innings. The help in the wicket was dying, but we showed patience. Sachin's knock was crucial, but the manner in which Ajinkya [Rahane] and Kaustubh [Pawar] applied themselves was encouraging. And Dhawal's innings at the end was crucial too."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Ashok on October 31, 2013, 20:00 GMT

    I hope this match has given Sachin sufficient confidence to play his last 2 Tests vs. WI. Actually the WI Team Manager went to the extent of saying that we will not give an inch to Tendulkar. He will have to earn every run!. Amazingly he has been playing with the same rules of earning his runs for the past 25 years. In fact even in SRT's final Ranji match, he had to work very hard to carry the Mumbai to victory with a hard earned 79*. I do hope Sachin has a good score in his final 2 Farewell Tests. Here is wishing all the best to a great Legend- who made India & Cricket Fans throughout the world proud of him.

  • Vikram on October 31, 2013, 16:11 GMT

    "Ajay Jadeja has always been very encouraging and innovative as a captain." - exactly my thoughts. The likes of Azharuddin, Jadeja, Kapil Dev and Hansie Cronje should have world cups named after them.

  • Dummy4 on October 30, 2013, 17:39 GMT

    Sachin had a few close lbw shouts...................Must notlook for cheeky singles on leg side

  • Dummy4 on October 30, 2013, 13:02 GMT

    Ajay Jadeja has always been very encouraging and innovative as a captain.. infact when ganguly was made captain many players wanted Ajay jadeja as a captain. he lost it in the end cz his position in test team. eve sunil gavaskar was having the same opinion. b in this match after the gap of 7 years he again shown why.

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