Under low-slung clouds, the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium was caught between the debris of the past and hopes for the future here on Tuesday. The temporary cubicles and other remnants of the rain-affected T20I on Sunday were cleared while the ground-staff kept an eye on the playing arena.
The T20I between India and South Africa lasted a mere 3.3 overs but there is now the immediate prospect of five days of cricket as the Ranji Trophy final commencing on Wednesday will feature a historical behemoth and a present challenger. Mumbai, champion on 41 occasions, will face off against Madhya Pradesh, which last made the final in the 1998-99 season.
The pitch with its tinge of green may enthuse rival seamers and later the spinners could come into play. Bengaluru’s moody weather, bright sunshine one moment, brooding moisture-laden darkness the next, can affect the best laid plans.
Mumbai rode on its batting in the semifinals against Uttar Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh in turn humbled Bengal and Aditya Shrivastava’s men even employed spin from the initial overs. This unit punches above its weight and in coach Chandrakant Pandit, it has a star, who was an insider with Mumbai before he switched to Madhya Pradesh.
The teams (from)
- Mumbai: Prithvi Shaw (captain), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Armaan Jaffer, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni, Aakarshit Gomel, Prasad Pawar (wicket-keeper), Hardik Tamore (wicket-keeper), Sairaj Patil, Aman Khan, Shams Mulani, Dhrumil Matkar, Tanush Kotian, Shashank Attarde, Suved Parkar, Tushar Deshpande, Mohit Awasthi, Royston Dias, Siddharth Raut and Musheer Khan. Coach: Amol Muzumdar.
- Madhya Pradesh: Aditya Shrivastava (captain), Yash Dubey, Himanshu Mantri (wicket-keeper), Shubham Sharma, Rajat Patidar, Akshat Raghuvanshi, Saransh Jain, Puneet Datey, Kumar Kartikeya Singh, Anubhav Agarwal, Gaurav Yadav, Parth Sahani, Harsh Gawli, Mihir Hirwani, Rahul Batham, Rakesh Thakur, Vikrant Bhadoria, Ankit Sharma, Omkarnath Singh, Kuldeep Sen and Arham Aquil. Coach: Chandrakant Pandit.
- Umpires: Virender Sharma and K.N. Ananthapadmanabhan.
- Match referee: Manu Nayyar.
- Play starts at 9.30 a.m.
Pandit has some old wounds to heal, especially at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. In the 1999 final, he led Madhya Pradesh against Karnataka. Vijay Bharadwaj the batter was in the form of his life but then he used his off-breaks to bundle out the visitor and Pandit believes that he now gets a shot at redemption.
Mumbai would be hoping for a century from its captain Prithvi Shaw, who is yet to strike one this season. Yashasvi Jaiswal, Arman Jaffer, Sarfaraz Khan and Suved Parkar have had their vein of form. Seasoned Dhawal Kulkarni helms a pace attack and above all, Mumbai has revealed tenacity, a trait that shines bright in summit clashes. The 2010 Mysore final against Karnataka being a case in point.
Madhya Pradesh with its young batters like Rajat Patidar, Yash Dubey, Akshat Raghuwanshi and Himanshu Mantri and an effective attack with spinner Kumar Kartikeya weaving a web, can test Mumbai. In a season during which their flashy cousins Mumbai Indians struggled in the Indian Premier League, Shaw’s men are keen to prove that in domestic cricket they remain the real deal.