Batting thin as wafer, Mumbai turn to Wasim Jaffer
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As Zaheer Khan, following an extended stretching routine, made his way to the media interaction, the Mumbai sun forced the skipper to squint at the Wankhede Stadium. That squint gradually deepened into a grimace during the course of this interaction, as questions regarding Mumbai's faltering batting line-up were thrown thick and fast at him.
None of the Mumbai batsmen figure in the top-ten highest run-scorers this season, with Aditya Tare being their best run-scorer with 570 runs from 15 innings. The defending champions' trusted run-machine, Wasim Jaffer, also seems to have run a little dry with the former captain floundering at number 30 on the 2013-14 batting list, with 538 runs in 14 innings.
To make matters worse, the 40-times Ranji champions will go into their quarterfinal against Maharashtra without Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, as both batsmen are New Zealand-bound cricketers. And to rub salt into what already looks like a serious wound, Hiken Shah and Siddhesh Lad, batsmen who showed signs of coming into form over the previous two games, will miss out on this clash due to injury.
Shah's absence will definitely be felt by Mumbai, as the middle-order will now comprise of fresh recruits, without a senior hand to steady the ship. Zaheer admitted as much, saying: "Hiken is someone we are definitely going to miss. He has played some really good knocks to get the team here." Shah has 428 runs in 13 innings and is the most experienced batsman after Jaffer in the current Mumbai squad.
In-form batting order
Maharashtra, on the other hand, flaunt the luxury of having two of their top-order batsmen side-by-side at the top of the run-getters charts. Harshad Khadiwale has 930 runs while Kedar Jadhav has 865. Also, two other Maharashtra top-order batsman, Vijay Zol and Ankeet Bawne, have 400-plus runs this season.