'Mumbai were complacent and arrogant' - Jaffer
Wasim Jaffer, the Mumbai captain, has admitted that his team were complacent and arrogant in their Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Rajasthan, who were promoted from the Plate League. Rajasthan knocked out the defending champions, bowling them out for 252 and then surging to 589 on the back of three centuries. Jaffer, however, denied that Mumbai had taken Rajasthan lightly. "It is very shocking indeed when I look back. They (Rajasthan) are professional players and have come up the hard way," Jaffer told DNA. "In fact they were on par with some of the Elite Division teams. But we never expected that this would happen. We were a bit complacent and arrogant too."
The conditions were helpful for the fast bowlers on the opening day, Jaffer said, and he felt that bowling first would have been the correct decision. Mumbai, however, opted to bat, and seamer Pankaj Singh ran through the line-up to skittle them out for a below-par score. "There are no ifs and buts. We have always batted first whenever we won the toss and we usually put up a big score. We don't normally field first unless the pitch is really green. Even in last year's final in Mysore, we batted first. But I would admit that we did not bat well and 250 certainly was not enough. We had recovered from tough situations before, but this time we couldn't."
Jaffer blamed Mumbai's early demise this season on his batsmen throwing away their wickets after getting starts. "You could see that throughout the tournament, runs were scored but then they were not converted into big scores. Against Railways, (Ajinkya) Rahane scored 94 but he did not see the team through, and the rest of the batsmen had to rescue us. In this match too, he and (Abhishek) Nayar scored 60, but they could not get big scores, which would have helped us. The lack of conversion was one of the reasons for our loss."
Despite the core players like Jaffer, Rahane, Nayar, Rohit Sharma, Ajit Agarkar, Iqbal Abdulla, and Ramesh Powar playing most games, Mumbai tried out 23 players in all during their eight Ranji games, and Jaffer felt that they lacked bench strength. "We don't have suitable fast bowlers who can replace Dhawal (Kulkarni), Ajit or Aavishkar (Salvi) when they are injured. We also need to have a back-up of good spinners. Batting is another area where we need bench strength. Players have come in but none of them have impressed in the given opportunities. You have to at least score a hundred or a double to cement your place instead of 30s or 50s."
Not making even the semi-finals is a huge letdown for the 39-time champions, who take immense pride in their Ranji record, and Jaffer said that it hurt to be out of the tournament "so early." "Every year our aim is to win the title, nothing less than that. Everyone was confident from the staff to the team management. But when you are playing the knockout stage you may have one bad session or bad day and you have to deal with that. However, we could not overcome that this time."