After gaining three points against defending champions Rajasthan in the Group A encounter, Mumbai's stand-in captain Rohit Sharma gushed that it's a pleasure to upstage Rajasthan in their backyard. Speaking exclusively to Cricketnext, Sharma said, "Rajasthan have been doing exceptionally well in the last couple of seasons and they're a very strong side. Given the fact that they were playing at home, it's really a pleasure to outplay them and earn three vital points. We did well against Railways in our first match of the Ranji Trophy and we're glad to have carried the momentum in this match. Getting the better of Rajasthan is a huge motivating factor and now we'll look forward to our match against Hyderabad."
The 25-year-old asserted that there were no jitters in the dressing room when they were reduced to 420 for 6 as Rajasthan picked up three wickets in the morning session of day four, and gave themselves a chance to defend their first innings total of 478. "As a team we were positive at every stage of this match. Abhishek Nayar was at the crease and he's in superb form so we knew that he would steer us past 478. Also, our batting has a lot of depth. Ankeet Chavan and Ramesh Powar are very handy batsmen so there was not need to get uptight."
Defending his bowlers, Sharma opined that on a flat deck, his bowlers did a creditable job. "The wicket was completely flat. It had no assistance for anyone - whether spinners or fast bowlers. I was rather happy that our bowlers could restrict Rajasthan to 478, which I thought was completely gettable given the kind of batting we've. Though, we would look to utilize the new ball better in our remaining matches. This is one area we need to address."
The stylish batsman proclaimed that he doesn't feel insecure by the fact that a lot of batsmen are piling up mountain of runs in the current Ranji season. "I don't think much about what others are doing. If other batsmen are plundering runs, it's good for them and their teams. I prefer to focus on my batting and back myself to perform to the best of my abilities. Eventually, we all have to go through the same grind to secure a berth in India's Test squad. The procedure is same for everyone so getting insecure is really a silly thing. Whoever will do best will get selected to play for India. It's a simple theory."
Meanwhile, Rajasthan's coach Meyrick Pringle said that his bowlers 'brilliantly' though the scorecard suggest otherwise. "I've no complaints from my bowlers. They bowled brilliantly though their bowling figures don't look enviable. There were a few edges which didn't carry to fielders, and some close decision went against us. These small factors matter a lot. Also, you must give credit to Mumbai batsmen for applying themselves and putting up a remarkable batting performance."
Pringle, however, admitted that a lack of a quality spinner in their team is a huge concern, and also rued shoddy fielding their team demonstrated in the match. "I agree that spinners have done little of note for Rajasthan in the last three years and it is really a cause of worry for us. To be honest, lack of a quality spinners the team is a worrying factor but we have to manage with the resources we have at our disposal. Till the time a crafty spinner comes through the ranks, we'll have to encourage and groom the current lot.
As far as fielding is concerned, we missed a few catches (5 catches) and our ground fielding wasn't too good either. This surely made life easier for Mumbai team. At this level, you expect top-notch fielding from your players, but I think this match was just an abberation. You'll definitely see an improved fielding effort from us in the next matches."
The 46-year-old insisted that there are a lot of positives their team has taken from this match, and will turn the corner in the remaining matches of the Ranji Trophy. "As I said, I'm happy with the way our bowlers went about doing their stuff. As far as batting is concerned, we're spoilt for choices. Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Vineet Saxena blasted fine centuries, while Dishant Yagnik is a utility wicketkeeper-batsman. Robin Bist was outstanding in the last season, and batted splendidly in the Irani Trophy. He's a very solid batsman. We're sanguine of dishing out a vibrant show in our next matches," he concluded.