Ranji Trophy 2013-14 December 2, 2013

Tambe named in Mumbai Ranji squad for first time

Pravin Tambe, the 42-year-old legspinner, has earned his maiden call-up to the Mumbai Ranji Trophy squad. He was named in their 15 for the home match against Jharkhand, scheduled for December 6 to 9.

Tambe, who had not played any top-level cricket until May this year, got his first big break when he was included in Rajasthan Royals' squad for IPL 2013. He played his first recognised Twenty20 as a 41-year-old against Delhi Daredevils, and went on to play two more games in the tournament. He is yet to play a List A or a first-class match, but really grabbed the spotlight in the Champions League T20 2013, in September-October, when he was the competition's leading wicket-taker with 12 scalps in five games at an average of 6.50.

The Mumbai selectors took into account Tambe's attitude and recent form, chief selector Deepak Jadhav told ESPNcricinfo. "We had a little bit of discussion before arriving at a consensus about Pravin," Jadhav, who was chairing his first senior selection committee after Sudhir Naik stepped down last week, said. "But the point is none of the young spinners are ready to earn the Mumbai cap. Iqbal Abdullah, who had been a part of the squad before we asked him to play the U-25 game last week, hasn't been bowling well. Had we had a deserving youngster, we would have gone for it, but barring his physical age, Pravin fits the bill in every respect.

"He has been picking tons of wickets for years and years. Not only at the club level, but he has also proven himself in T20s at the IPL and CLT20. Moreover, his attitude is as positive as any youngster. He is lively on the field and even if he isn't in the eleven, he is a great motivator in the dressing room. He is an asset to the team, so I would tell everyone not to look at his age. He is fit, he has the skills and he has the ability and desire to succeed at this level, so he deserves an opportunity."

Tambe posed problems for most batsmen in the Champions League, with his skiddy legbreaks and accuracy, and helped Royals complete a giant-killing in the semi-final by beating Chennai Super Kings. He took 3 for 10 in his four overs in that game, claiming the wickets of Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo and S Badrinath.

Mumbai are missing regular captain and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan and batsman Ajinkya Rahane in this squad, with the pair being away on India duty in South Africa.

Squad: Abhishek Nayar (capt), Aditya Tare (vice-capt), Wasim Jaffer, Hiken Shah, Suryakumar Yadav, Sushant Marathe, Vishal Dabholkar, Siddhesh Lad, Javed Khan, Shardul Thakur, Akbar Khan, Kshemal Waingankar, Manish Rao, Pravin Tambe, Sagar Kerkar

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo