‘What more should Siddhesh Lad, Musheer Khan do for selection?’

Mumbai head into the Ranji Trophy with their third skipper of the season. After Ajinkya Rahane (Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament) and Shams Mulani (Vijay Hazare Trophy), Prithvi Shaw will lead the city team in the Ranji Trophy. The selection of the team has not gone down well with all members of the cricketing fraternity. Why no Siddhesh Lad and how can young spin bowling all-rounder Musheer Khan not find a place.

Meanwhile, experienced wicketkeeper-batsman and former captain Aditya Tare, 34, has returned to the side. Lad may have not set the local cricket tracks on fire, but doing away with his experience and past performances is brave to say the least. 

Musheer has been the Mumbai U-19 team’s top wicket-taker (28) and has scored 307 runs in the ongoing Cooch Behar Trophy. But he has failed to make it to the team picked for the first two Ranji games by the Salil Ankola-headed selection panel.

‘MCA should back Lad’

Former Mumbai Cricket Association Joint Secretary Dr PV Shetty and ex-Mumbai Ranji Trophy-winning coach Sulakshan Kulkarni have raised issues on the recent Mumbai selection. Kulkarni, who was Mumbai coach when Lad scored an unbeaten 115 in his debut game against Saurashtra in the Vijay Hazare Trophy at Pune in 2013, felt MCA should back a proven cricketer like Lad.    

Sulakshan Kulkarni & Dr PV Shetty

“You are dropping experienced players like Siddhesh, but the players who got an opportunity…did they perform? I think young players are getting plenty of opportunities, but they fail to grab them. In this scenario, why not back experienced hands like Tare  [dropped for Vijay Hazare Trophy] and Lad, who rescued you and helped to win so many times,” Kulkarni asked.

Kulkarni, the former Mumbai wicketkeeper-batsman remarked: “We see how India head coach Rahul Dravid and the national selectors are backing struggling Ajinkya and Cheteshwar Pujara at the international level. However, it’s not the same where Mumbai cricket is concerned. MCA needs to back experienced cricketers like Aditya and Siddhesh.” 

Lad was Mumbai’s second highest run-getter (112) after skipper Rahane (286) in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy last November, when Mumbai were knocked out of the tournament during the league stage. 

Lad has scored 16 in the lone game he played in the Vijay Hazare Trophy recently. Mumbai managed a solitary win in the domestic one-day tournament where Armaan Jaffer was the top-scorer—138 from five matches.

Musheer claimed 10 wickets and scored 70 runs in the Mumbai U-19 team’s six-wicket triumph over Haryana in a must-win U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy league game on Thursday, which helped Mumbai to enter pre-quarter final of the tournament. Shetty wondered what more a player should do to get picked after performing consistently for his club [Payyade SC] in tournaments.

‘They will feel dejected’

“What more should Musheer and Siddhesh do? They will feel dejected and not play club cricket. Siddhesh has scored each time Mumbai were in a crisis. He deserves to be in the team,” Shetty remarked.   

Kulkarni also raised the important issue of handing out the Mumbai cap easily. “When we won the Ranji Trophy under Ravi Shastri’s captaincy [1993-94], under Sachin Tendulkar’s leadership [1994-95] and when Sanjay Manjrekar was skipper [1996-97], around 20 to 25 players represented Mumbai during those seasons. However, if you look at the last two-three years, around 30 to 35 players played for Mumbai. Has the Mumbai cap become so easy to earn?” he remarked. 

Clearly, there are more questions than answers with regards to the present state of Mumbai cricket.

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