“Whoever wins, Shivaji Park is the winner,” a former Mumbai player quipped.
Both men share the same coaching philosophy: it’s about the players and nothing but the title constitutes success. It’s a sentiment embedded into Mumbai players when they get the cap. Pandit has been part of six title wins as coach; Muzumdar will be looking to steer Mumbai to their first under him, in his maiden season, and their 42nd overall.
So everything is set. The pandemic wiped out a lot of domestic cricket over the last two years. But now, over the course of the next five days, 22 men – a lot of whom play away from the IPL spotlight – will have the opportunity to make history.
Mumbai: DWWWD (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Madhya Pradesh: WWDWW
In the spotlight
Mumbai’s success this season has been a result of their batters putting up huge first innings totals and then grinding the opposition to dust. But their captain hasn’t got going yet. Prithvi Shaw‘s stocks have fallen over the past year. Once a first-choice pick in the Indian team, he has now been bypassed by Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill. A Ranji Trophy final is a high-profile game and if he can make a big one here, he might just be able to persuade the national selectors to give him a second chance. A player with average of 82 across 33 first-class games deserves it.
Five-wicket haul in the quarter-final, five-for in the semi-final, a maiden IPL stint – life may look like a bed of roses currently for MP’s Kumar Kartikeya. But the man hasn’t been home in over a decade. He can only go back after making a name for himself. That was the deal. Leading Madhya Pradesh to their first ever Ranji Trophy title should probably do the trick.
Barring late injuries, both squads are unlikely to make changes from the XIs that played the semi-final.
Mumbai: 1 Prithvi Shaw (capt), 2 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 3 Armaan Jaffer, 4 Suved Parkar, 5 Sarfaraz Khan, 6 Hardik Tamore (wk), 7 Shams Mulani, 8 Dhawal Kulkarni, 10 Tanush Kotian, 10 Mohit Avasthi, 11 Tushar Deshpande
Madhya Pradesh: 1 Yash Dubey, 2 Himanshu Mantri (wk), 3 Shubham Sharma, 4 Rajat Patidar, 5 Aditya Shrivastava (capt), 6 Akshat Raghuwanshi, 7 Saransh Jain, 8 Anubhav Agarwal, 9 Gourav Yadav, 10 Kumar Kartikeya, 11 Puneet Datey
Pitch and conditions
June is an unusual time for first-class cricket in India, and given the rain all around, the groundstaff have found it extremely challenging to get the grounds in Bengaluru ready for the Ranji Trophy knockouts and the India-South Africa T20I that was abandoned on Sunday. This is the first time the Chinnaswamy Stadium will be hosting a first-class game in over two years, and the curator hopes for a surface with decent grass cover and excellent bounce. There will be plenty of moisture for the seam bowlers to work with.
Stats and trivia
- Mumbai have lost only one of the 12 finals they have played in the last 30 years. That was to Gujarat in 2016-17. Incidentally, Mumbai were coached by Pandit then. They haven’t made a final since.
- Mumbai are one of only three teams this season (Andhra and Rajasthan being the other two) to not concede a century.
- Mumbai’s bowling average of 19.73 is the best for any team in this Ranji Trophy.
- The average of MP’s seam bowlers (19.91) is the best among all teams that made the Ranji knockouts this season.
“We haven’t looked at the quarter-finals or the semi-finals or the finals. There are systems that are working in the dressing room, and we would like to follow that till the last ball is bowled in the Ranji Trophy season. That was our commitment at the start of the season.”
Mumbai coach Amol Muzumdar on what has worked for his team
“I don’t tell state associations what my expectations are. Those who know the dos and don’ts of bringing Chandrakant Pandit on board only get in touch with me. My working principle is simple: complete trust in me by the establishment and letting me have complete freedom to operate if you want results.”
MP coach Chandrakant Pandit to PTI on the way he likes to work.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo