42-year-old leg-spinner Pravin Tambe is set to make his first-class and Ranji Trophy debut after he was selected in the 15-member squad for Mumbai’s home match against Jharkhand from December 6 to 9.
Tambe hasn’t played first-class or List A cricket in his career so far, but has taken loads of wickets at the club level.
Having made his debut for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2013 earlier this year, Tambe made his name in Champions League T20 where he grabbed 12 wickets in 5 matches at an average of 6.50, emerging as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament.
Mumbai are themselves struggling in the spin department, and need a partner for left-arm orthodox Vishal Dabholkar. Iqbal Abdullah, who was tried earlier, hasn’t been performing up to the team management’s expectations and has been told to play more U-25 games at the moment.
Mumbai chief selector Sudhir Jadhav, who took over the reigns from Sudhir Naik last week, told ESPNCricinfo that a lack of quality youngsters, and Pravin’s good form, has resulted in his selection.
“We had a little bit of discussion before arriving at a consensus about Pravin. But the point is none of the young spinners are ready to earn the Mumbai cap. Iqbal Abdullah, who had been a part of the squad before we asked him to play the U-25 game last week, hasn’t been bowling well. Had we had a deserving youngster, we would have gone for it, but barring his physical age, Pravin fits the bill in every respect,” Jadhav said.
He also stressed on the positives that Pravin Tambe would bring in the Mumbai team’s dressing room.
“He has been picking tons of wickets for years and years. Not only at the club level, but he has also proven himself in T20s at the IPL and CLT20. Moreover, his attitude is as positive as any youngster. He is lively on the field and even if he isn’t in the eleven, he is a great motivator in the dressing room. He is an asset to the team, so I would tell everyone not to look at his age. He is fit, he has the skills and he has the ability and desire to succeed at this level, so he deserves an opportunity,” he said.
Mumbai are missing captain Zaheer Khan and top order batsmen Ajinkya Rahane in their squad as the duo left with the national team to South Africa.
Abhishek Nayar has been named Mumbai’s captain in Zaheer’s absence.
Mumbai squad: Abhishek Nayar (C), Aditya Tare (VC), Wasim Jaffer, Hiken Shah, Suryakumar Yadav, Sushant Marathe, Vishal Dabholkar, Siddhesh Lad, Javed Khan, Shardul Thakur, Akbar Khan, Kshemal Waingankar, Manish Rao, Pravin Tambe, Sagar Kerkar