Karnataka v Mumbai, Ranji final, Mysore, 4th day January 14, 2010

Mumbai's bloody-mindedness to the fore

Mumbai's victory in the Ranji final epitomises the bloody-mindedness and never-say-die attitude that makes them the behemoths of Indian domestic cricket

Finally Mumbai lived up to the hype. Tirelessly, relentlessly their supporters have played up Mumbai's penchant for a fight, which they believe brings out the khadoos (bloody-minded) character honed on the maidans of India's commercial capital. Indeed it was that characteristic that guided Mumbai to their 39th Ranji title.

In Mysore, on each of the four days, the locals flocked to the venue in huge numbers, baying for the blood of 11 visiting gladiators. But every day Mumbai found a man or two to stand up and silence the enemy.

Vinayak Samant's defiance on the first day restored parity after the visitors were bleeding at 106 for 6 at one stage. Aavishkar Salvi then spearheaded a spirited comeback on the following day to puncture Karnataka with his first five-for in the season. On the third, Abhishek Nayar and Dhawal Kulkarni joined forces to stonewall the rampaging hosts and raise a match-turning 95-run association for the sixth-wicket which bolstered Mumbai's overall lead. Finally, on festive Thursday, Ajit Agarkar and Kulkarni were at their hostile best with the second new ball as they held their nerve at crucial moments to take their side to victory.

Yet it was not a straightforward march. To go with the hard times, Mumbai suffered setbacks regularly. The year had started with Mumbai losing an important senior in Amol Muzumdar, when their former captain decided to move to Assam; Wasim Jaffer lost the toss in all the league games; crucial players like Rohit Sharma were missed in the semi-finals and final; injuries forced Ramesh Powar and Nayar to sit out during the middle stage of the campaign. It was a period where the defending champions struggled and could not notch a solitary outright victory in seven attempts.

But the mighty always seem to have luck on their side and so it was with Mumbai. After they earned enough points to qualify for the knockouts, they ran into a Plate team (Haryana) in the quarter-finals and then recovered from a shaky start against Delhi in the semi-finals to make their second straight final.

In the last five years Mumbai have won the crown three times but their reign has been erratic. However they have always remained the team to beat even though fresh and spirited contenders like Uttar Pradesh, Saurashtra, and this year, Karnataka have emerged.

Throughout, the guiding lights have been the experienced hands. At the top of the tree is the calming influence of Jaffer. He might be a simple, reserved man on the outside, but Jaffer can get the message across with his plain-speak. Over the years as a captain he has grown tactically too - the move to push Kulkarni up the order when Mumbai were down on their knees on the second day at 51 for 5 proved to be a masterstroke as the batsman went on to score 87, his maiden half-century, to bring his side back into the game.

In the past, Jaffer has been accused of being aloof on the field, and not aggressive in his captaincy. But in the last two days the otherwise phlegmatic Jaffer was at his most animated. He rushed repeatedly to the bowlers to discuss and adjust field settings, shuffled in his bunker at the slips nervously, and celebrated warmly with his team-mates whenever a wicket fell. Probably it was the needle in the contest that brought him alive. The same could hold true for the rest of his team that brought out their best, when the pressure of the big game was on.

Agarkar, lying low for the most of the season, hit back aggressively with hostile and telling spells in both innings of the final. He was visibly rattled by the controversial run-out decision that sent him back in the first innings, but he put the disappointment behind him admirably and bowled with control.

He deserved to take the last wicket which fetched him a five-for, and raise his arm victoriously and ceremoniously, much to the angst of the locals. He was supported well by Kulkarni, who too, looked like he had lost his mojo after ending as the highest wicket-taker last year. Innocuous throughout the season, his batting efforts seemed to rejuvenate Kulkarni, who bowled accurate and tight spells to support his senior mate.

As the year progressed the other growing concern for Mumbai was the failure of the top and middle-order. The onus was on Jaffer and Ajinkya Rahane - the top two batsmen last year. But even their consistency dipped; various opening combinations were tried without success. The failure of Sahil Kukreja and Sushant Marathe even forced Jaffer to open the innings in the final two matches. Though Onkar Khanvilkar and Nayar cracked some stubborn knocks they were never consistent. If not for the tenacity of the lower order, Mumbai's journey could have met a premature end.

By no means were battle-scarred Mumbai the most attractive side in the tournament. Unlike Karnataka, who had Abhimanyu Mithun or Manish Pandey, Mumbai did not showcase any enterprising youngster apart from Harmeet Singh, the 16-year-old left-arm spinner who is participating in the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand. What made Mumbai triumph was their dogged determination to fight until the very end, despite their limitations.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Fod on January 15, 2010, 23:12 GMT

    An amusing final paragraph to the article above - that, unlike Mithun and Pandey, Bombay did not feature any "enterprising youngsters" in its title-winning squad.

    Pandey has 1075 career runs at 51.20. Rahane has 3403 career runs at 65.44. Rahane is 21 years old, to Pandey's 20.

    Mithun has 47 career wickets at 23.23. Dhawal Kulkarni has 78 career wickets at 24.82. Kulkarni is also 21 years old, to Mithun's 20.

    In addition, the highest wickettaker amongst spinners this year in the entire Ranji Trophy was Iqbal Abdullah - 32 wickets at 26.7... and Abdullah also happened to average 42 with the bat. Iqbal Abdullah is 20 years old.

    I suppose, in Cricinfo terms, when Bombay's 20 and 21 year olds perform consistently well for 2 or 3 years instead of just 1, they are no longer considered to be "enterprising youngsters"?

  • MAKSOOD on January 15, 2010, 15:35 GMT

    I am a bit surprised, Iqbal Abdullah's name hasen't been mentioned in the report. Not only did Iqbal ended up as a top wicket taker for Mumbai this season (35) he has also played some crucial knocks with the bat down the order. His two wickets in the finals changed the game in Mumbai's favor. However I'd like to keep it short and sweet. It was a great final.

  • Chinmay on January 15, 2010, 8:06 GMT

    The secret of Mumbai's success in Ranji Trophy in recent times is the cricket structure that exists in Mumbai. We don't have the talent we used to have (it wasn't unusual to see 7-8 Mumbai players in Indian team in the past; now you'll find just 2 regulars), but this has been offset by the preparation Mumbai players undergo before Ranji Trophy in tournaments like Kanga League. The school cricket structure in Mumbai (Harris Shield) is unparalleled in India; and the facilities for the Ranji Team (at Bandra Kurla Complex) are simply fabulous by domestic standards.

    Compare this with the chaos that exists in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi setup (2 teams which have more representation in Indian team than Mumbai has) and you see why Mumbai is still able to maintain their domination.

    As far as Karnataka are concerned, bad luck guys; you have been the best side in the country this season. The fact remains though, that Mumbai haven't lost in a Ranji Trophy match for more than 2 years. Karnataka have.

  • Manu on January 15, 2010, 7:55 GMT

    Robin Uthapa should be axed from karnataka Ranji team. He screwed IPL finals for Bangalore Royal Challengers and now Ranji Finals for Karnataka. Manish Pandey has improved a lot under the guidance of Rahul Dravid. Vinay and Mithun are the best bowlers in the national circuit.

    And why is Stuart Binny playing instead of Akhil, Who has performed better in Batting, Bowling and Fielding than Binny ?.

    But we have to appreciate Mumbaikar's for the way they hold there nerves.

  • saurabh on January 15, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    Also can anyone give an similar incident like the Agarkar runout - I was obviously reading a very biased reporter from TOI (who did niot even try to hide his rooting for Kar team - not expected from a national reporter - from Bangalore bureau yes but not from national reporter)...when i saw the runout on TV - I did feel the ball was dead...

  • saurabh on January 15, 2010, 6:18 GMT

    Its a fallacy to just blame Mumbai players for all the boorish instances - just as Indian fans blame Austrlians for instigating instances whey are some Karnataka fans ignoring the same logic...Agarkar's behavior was terrible but so was the behavior of many Karntaka players. Lastly what about the KCA -delaying removal of covers for more than 75 minutes to favor the home side; Isnt that boorish behavior. The fact is the match was great - Karnataka played great Mumbai played a bit better...More players from Mumbai and Karnaaka deserve to be the national side with Nayar, Kulkarni, Pandey and Mithun being clear favs....Mithun and Kulkarni will be upgrade over Nehra any day. Mr Majr - I grew up in Mumbai and stay now in Delhi after stints in Bangalore etc; I can perhaps say it with authority that all the three places are as parochial as each other. While I am opposed to Marathi or Kannada being imposed, why is there no issue when folks in Delhi expect everyone to know Hindi

  • Chetan Kumar on January 15, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    Agarkar.......oh not again....... he has been given lot of opportunities...... Except on a few occasions he just been a guest in the team. There are many deserving players who are not being given a chance. Maybe they need to do something else too other than playing good cricket. Just go through the below article.....There was so much talk when Sachin scored 11000 runs in Test cricket. All the news Ravi Shastri & Gavaskar went gaga over that. But does they atleast know that Dravid too has 11000 test Runs and has 28 test centuries for his credit along with a record number of catches. In addition he has over 10000 One day runs.


    Regarding the attitude of the Mumbai Players.. go through the below article....


    I think they wouldn't have behaved like this if a senior player like Rahul Dravid would have played.

  • P Subramani on January 15, 2010, 5:46 GMT

    Mumbai may have won the Ranji Trophy but their behaviour on the field was quite disgusting. All this talk about the famed Mumbai spirit is actually quite ridiculous. And with every rendition of the so called Khadoos attitude there is a new awe amongst the listeners to everything from Mumbai. I was born and brought up in Bombay as it was then where I did my schooling and spent my early years in the early fifties.The place earned its fame as a metaphor for grit because of the cosmopolitanism and willingness in the people to stand by each other. Sadly, that has long gone. What is left today is a kind of parochialism that can destroy the fabric of the nation. It is not a mere co-incidence that barring these fleeting moments of Ranji success, Mumbai cicket does not have a national participant other than a legend of 20 years ago. I wish they realise that the nation has moved on while Mumbai still cherishes its famed Khadoos spirit.

  • Raja on January 15, 2010, 5:08 GMT

    In an exciting match, there were a few low points that need to be kept in mind. Neither Wasim Jaffer nor Robin Utthapa did themselves any favour in this match by their poor shows with the bat. Based on this show, and the given talent in the Indian side now, I doubt if these two will get much of a future look in. For Utthapa, a decision to bat lower down the order and then get out in less than 10 balls is damning. The other issue between the sides, was the unfortunate attitude shown by both teams, and towards the end, specially Mumbai. One does not point stumps at a paying crowd. Period. It smacks of a churlish attitude and even the Australians do not do this. Surely, there can be needles in a game, but to take it out on a crowd shows a conspicuous lack of maturity. Finally, please let us NOT bring back Agarkar to the Indian side. Apart from 2-3 rare ocassions, he has always been a passenger in the Indian side and is best left to showcase his talent in a Ranji Trophy match

  • Chetan Kumar on January 15, 2010, 5:01 GMT

    As mentioned by Prashanth, the article just shows the support of the to Mumbai instead of Cricket. If you read through the comments in the commentary section you will realise that this match was one of the best in the history of the tournament. And if not for the wrong decisions given to Amit Verma & G.Satish the end result might have been different.

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