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Amol Muzumdar - Next Man In

Kulkarni and Ajinkya Rahane are the two future stars, writes Amol Muzumdar

Saturday, December 27, 2021
'Dhawal is our trump card'

For the last three years I have been a close part of this rebuilding phase in Mumbai's cricket. A number of young players were drafted in couple of years back, and they have all started to perform, and perform consistently. Here you have to applaud the role of all the senior players, the selectors, and the coaches involved. Praveen Amre has played a key role in it, guiding and grooming these youngsters and moulding them into good first-class cricketers.

The 2008-09 campaign begun much before the Ranji Trophy actually started. MCA teams went to Anantpur and Chennai to play in some pre-season warm-up matches. That offered the chance to have a close look at all the fringe players. That was perfect preparation before the season opener. Having spent "DIWALI" at home we were all charged up before the first game against Rajasthan. With the Wankhede Stadium being renovated, the game was shifted to the Brabourne Stadium.

Rajasthan were rolled over in two and a half days. Two youngsters really stood out to me in that game; Rohit Sharma for a magnificent hundred in the 2nd innings and Dhawal Kulkarni's dream debut bowling outstanding spells in both the innings.

Then we played Gujarat at Surat and we again won the contest on the third day; Dhawal being the wrecker-in-chief again. The matches against Delhi and Hyderabad were won easily. Then it was the turn of Orissa and Punjab to face the brunt. The only bleep we had this year was against Saurashtra - that's the only match we didn't play fully to our potential.

Now we are in the quarterfinals, but we still feel the first game gave us the momentum we were looking for. Unlike last year the bowling unit has looked sharp this season. Dhawal has been the ''' ekka''' of the pack. I can't recollect a 20-year old fast bowler bowling with such accuracy, control, and zip of the wicket. The striking thing in this kid is the sheer consistency of getting rid of top order batsman.

He really has been a ''star''.

This season so far also has seen the emergence of a distinctive Mumbai batsman - Ajinkya Rahane. I want you all to remember this name! a typical khadoos Mumbai cricketer. A batsman with a solid defence, but can also surprise you with aggression and lusty shots, an outstanding fielder but above all has got the hunger to achieve something big; the little dazzle in his eyes would suggest you that. 920 runs before the knockouts phew ... !!! some going ajju.

There have been other young players who have contributed immensely for us to be where we are. Rohit Sharma, Sahil Kukreja and Abhishek Nayar to name a few. It has been a season where everybody has contributed in some way or the other, and the senior players have chipped in at the right time. Wasim Jaffer has been a consistent player for Mumbai for over a decade, his batting has been a treat to watch this season. The drives, flicks and cuts have been Lajawab!! Yet again he has been the backbone of the batting line-up.

Knockout games are going to be covered, marked and watched by all, as the international calendar is empty till March next year. It's going to be fun playing the games from now on. The last two months have been really hectic - we have continuously been in a switch-on mode, match—travel—practice-match. And then there has been the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai, probably the three darkest days of our lives.

And the mantra after that has been let's not forget what happened. We as Mumbai cricketers - all we can do is play good positive cricket, and bring smirk if not a smile back on the faces of million Mumbaikars.