Coach Amre bemoans poor umpiring
Mumbai coach Pravin Amre has urged the BCCI to ensure highest quality of umpiring in domestic cricket. Amre lamented that the two umpiring errors on the opening day of Mumbai's Ranji Trophy semi-final against Karnataka had a huge bearing on the result of the game, as his team went on to lose by 112 runs.
"As a coach, I don't want to give this as an excuse, but everybody has got evidence," Amre said. "I think BCCI should also think about keeping quality umpires in big games.
"The match referees can go and watch, there is evidence. Robin Uthappa's decision - [had it been] 30 for 3, the match would have been different. Same thing with [Aditya] Tare's decision at a vital time. I think those were the turning points for me."
Vineet Kulkarni was the umpire who got both the decisions wrong on the first day. While Tare did not nick Vinay when he was given out, Uthappa was plumb in front but was adjudged not out. Kulkarni continued to have a poor game as on the third morning, he ruled in favour of the batsman when Akhil Herwadkar appeared to be plumb in front off Abhimanyu Mithun. He then adjudged Balwinder Singh Sandhu leg before on the fourth morning off the same bowler when the ball had ricocheted off the bat on to the pad.
Mumbai captain Aditya Tare's outburst against the decisions on the opening day had resulted in him being reprimanded by match referee V Narayan Kutty.
Karnataka captain Vinay Kumar, who was named Man of the Match for a six-wicket haul on the opening day, hoped for a better performance from his middle-order batsmen in the final.
"This season, we have been lacking a bit in batting. We will have a meeting. I think after taking a 150-run lead they could have left the ball outside off stump and spent more time at the wicket since we had four days to bat. We definitely need to pay more attention to shot selection," Vinay said.
"At this level, the amount of experience each batsman has, it is all about mental setup and how they approach. It has to come from within. We are waiting for Manish [Pandey] and Karun [Nair] to click. Hopefully in the next game they perform well and we will return with the trophy."
Mumbai started the mammoth chase on a positive note but Suryakumar Yadav's atypical knock on the third day shifted the momentum in Karnataka's favour. Yadav, who lead Mumbai's disastrous run for the first six games of the season, kept blocking the Karnataka bowlers, thus depriving Tare of strike.
Vinay was surprised with Yadav's approach. "The kind of batsman he is we thought he will go from ball one. On this wicket, if you don't play aggressively it is difficult to get runs. He played defensively and helped us stick to our plans. That really helped us."
Vinay hoped that CM Gautam, who strained his hamstring while batting in the second innings and couldn't keep during the last essay, would recover in time for the final since the physios have advised "three to four days" rest.
After starting the season with two forgettable outings, Mumbai bounced back in the last two games. Not only did they avoid relegation by beating Baroda, but they were also fortunate to have made it to the knockouts after earning three points against Karnataka in their last league stage.
Once they bounced back against Delhi in the quarter-final after a poor batting effort up front, their season turned out to be far brighter than it had appeared to be. For a young side with hardly any seniors to look up to, a top-four finish is an excellent achievement. Amre, who was reappointed for a year ahead of the season after a successful five-year stint with the team from 2006-07 to 2010-11, hoped the MCA would persist with the youngsters who had established themselves.
"I think MCA will definitely look into that matter [of rebuilding the team] for the next two years," he said. "The good thing is that they know there is talent and there are performers. It is very important to take care of this talent. It is easy [to blame] when they had one bad match but I think it is important to back them and the association's [role] is also important for the players."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo