Preview: Eyes on fading stars | Raina eyes Test comeback
MUMBAI: Ranji Trophy champs Mumbai were dealt a crushing blow ahead of their Irani Cup match against Rest of India when skipper Ajit Agarkar was ruled out of the contest following a groin injury sustained in the final against Saurashtra this past week.
In the absence of the influential captain, the 40-time Ranji winners will be led by all-rounder Abhishek Nayar, who finished last season as the second-highest runs-scorer behind Punjab’s Jiwanjot Singh.
Agarkar had been crucial to Mumbai’s fortunes in their last two games. In the semifinal against Services, at the Palam Ground in New Delhi, the skipper made a strokeful century to pull Mumbai out of potential disaster on the first day of the match.
In the final at the Wankhede Stadium against Saurashtra, Agarkar turned in a fearsome opening spell with the new ball, handing Mumbai crucial breakthroughs as the visitors crumbled under pressure.
The Agarkar-Dhawal Kulkarni combination made a no-contest of the title clash as Saurashtra rolled over for a paltry 82 in their second innings, leaving Mumbai winners by an innings and 125 runs.
A Mumbai Cricket Association official said, "The team will be led by Nayar, but there won't be any replacement for Ajit."
The five-day Irani Trophy competition begins at the Wankhede Stadium on February 6.