Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan are all set to strengthen Mumbai in their Ranji Trophy opener against Railways at the Wankhede Stadium here in the first week of November. "Sachin and Zaheer are likely to play in Mumbai's Ranji Trophy opener at the Wankhede Stadium. They have expressed their interest to play in the game," said MCA's joint secretary Nitin Dalal today.
The opening game between Mumbai and Railways is scheduled from November 2 to 5. Tendulkar, 39, had last played for his home association in his 33rd match for Mumbai, in the final against Uttar Pradesh in January, 2009, at Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi Stadium when the matches in the tournament was held at neutral venues. Though the senior India batsman made only single digit scores in both innings, Mumbai walloped UP by 243 runs to clinch the title for the 38th and penultimate time, under Wasim Jaffer's captaincy.
Tendulkar had played in the semi final too, in that 2008-09 season, against Saurashtra and notched a century at Chennai. Zaheer, 34, played two games last season to get into the groove for the international matches after an injury lay-off. He played against Orissa at Cuttack and against Saurashtra at Rajkot, his 27th and last appearance in Mumbai colours. The presence of Tendulkar and Zaheer for the tournament opener would be a major boost for Mumbai who would be without their most experienced Ranji batsman Jaffer for the first three games as he is set to go on a Haj pilgrimage.
"Jaffer told me yesterday that he would not be available for the first four games but has changed his mind and told me today he will be unavailable for only the first three games," informed Dalal. Jaffer is, thus, set to miss the home game against Railways, the second match against holders Rajasthan at Udaipur (Nov 9-12) and the third tie against Hyderabad in the latter's backyard (Nov 24-27). The 34-year-old former India opener is available for the fourth tie at home against Bengal.