Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Mumbai's five-wicket loss to Gujarat in Indore on Saturday was their first defeat in a Ranji Trophy final since 1990-91, where they lost to Haryana. Aditya Tare, who led them to title no. 41 last season, didn't take too kindly to his side's shot selection and fielding, which he said should have been "much better" for the standards they set themselves. Mumbai put down seven catches in all, mostly in the slips and behind the wicket.
"Two hundred-odd runs was a below-par score for us, considering we played seven batsmen," Tare said. "Though we lost the toss, we were 90 for 2 with two set batsman. From there, we should have consolidated and put on a good score but it didn't happen. That was the first thing that went wrong for us."
Tare said his batsmen needed to sometimes curb their natural instincts in the face of a challenge, which he felt they hadn't done in the first innings. The wickets of Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav, in particular, proved to change the momentum in the first innings.
"Both Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav like to go after the bowlers. These sort of dismissals aren't surprising. Sometimes they play their shots and it doesn't come off, making it look ugly," Tare said of their dismissals. "But that is their game and we do back their game as it comes naturally to them. But at some stage, they do have to realise that it is going to cost us the games. The second session on the first day (Mumbai lost four wickets for 82 runs) did the game for us. Though we played well in the second innings and came back strongly, what we did in the first innings was really poor."
While Tare was a little sympathetic towards both batsmen, he wasn't as forgiving with the catching. "Had we taken those chances, with 50 runs required, it would have been tough for them," he said. "A couple of wickets and the tail would have started, and Mumbai know how to play under pressure and other teams most of the time don't know. Fielding, particularly behind the stumps, let us down. Not this whole season, but just this game. We were phenomenal throughout the season in our fielding. But this game, in both the innings we weren't great."
During the course of an intense final day, there was plenty of chatter between both camps. Tare was at the centre of it all. He was visibly displeased with Manprit Juneja for what he thought was "time-wasting tactics" shortly after lunch. The umpires needed to intervene on a number of occasions. After the chatter stopped, Juneja and Parthiv Patel went on the offensive to pocket 139 runs.
Tare denied that there was lack of intensity from his team in the post-lunch phase. "Not really. It might have looked like that. They were putting on a good partnership. Juneja played some good shots and took the pressure off Parthiv," he said. "When he came in, he was complaining about the chatter and was wasting time. We thought we might as well get on with the game and focus on our effort. He was constantly complaining to the umpire and it looked like schoolboy cricket to me."
He also reaffirmed that this was an unsuccessful season purely because Mumbai hadn't won it. "We don't think about the 41 titles. Those were won by our seniors," he said. "I have been part of just two Ranji Trophy-winning teams. There were some in the dressing room who have not won a title yet. I don't think we were overconfident because of that."