Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar's presence in the upcoming 2012-13 Ranji Trophy final at the Wankhede Stadium gives hosts and 39-time tournament winners Mumbai a huge advantage, a fact acknowledged by players on both sides. Ahead of what will be Tendulkar's 36th appearance for Mumbai and his sixth Ranji Trophy final, the momentum is clearly with the home team who will be aiming at their 40th title. With Tendulkar around at his favorite venue, the odds are stacked against Saurashtra as they make their first finals appearance in 75 years.
"The kind of aura he [Tendulkar] carries and his presence in the dressing room is a big motivation for all of us. To have him in the dressing room, to get to talk to him, to get his expertise is something we all thrive on. It's obviously a big boost for us," said Mumbai allrounder Abhishek Nayar, who has scored 940 runs in 10 games at an average of 104 and taken 16 wickets this season.
Sitanshu Kotak, the veteran Saurashtra batsman, was left to concede that Mumbai are the favorites in the summit clash starting January 26. "Mumbai is a big team with Sachin Tendulkar playing as well. Then there are players like Ajit Agarkar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Wasim bhai (Jaffer) and Abhishek Nayar. Mumbai is obviously a superior team; One can lie they are not, but the truth is they are a superior team," said the 40-year-old.
This season, Tendulkar has made three appearances for Mumbai. In the season opener against Railways at the Wankhede, he made 137 in a bid to warm-up for the Tests against England. Following his retirement from ODI cricket, Tendulkar scored 108 and 9 in the quarter-final draw with Baroda and 56 in the semi-final win over Services.
The 39-year-old boasts a superb record at the Wankhede in Ranji Trophy finals: his scores read 47, 96 (against Haryana in 1991), 140 and 139 (against Punjab in 1995), 53 and 128 (against Hyderabad in 2000) and 105 and 43 (against Bengal in 2007). Tendulkar has won four of the five Ranji Trophy finals he has played in, the previous instance being against Uttar Pradesh in 2008-09.