Back in 1998, the Madhya Pradesh cricket team reached their first-ever Ranji Trophy final. Under the leadership of Chandrakant Pandit, they squared off against Karnataka at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. MP had eyed their maiden title win but unfortunately, their hopes were shattered. They lost the game by 98 runs.
23 years later, Pandit was back at Chinnaswamy with his very own Madhya Pradesh cricket team in yet another Ranji final. However, this time around, he arrived as a coach- the kingmaker. He had unfinished business at this venue and the team led by Aditya Shrivastava helped him settle it by defeating 41-time champions, Mumbai, by seven wickets.
After the win, an emotional Pandit said, “what father couldn’t do back in 1998, the son did it in 2022”.
News18 Cricketnext reached out to that lucky son - Aditya to know the story around this astounding victory.
Here are the excerpts of the interview:
How heavy was the trophy?
It was indeed heavy and more than the weight of the trophy, it’s the weight of the privilege that it brings with it. And the responsibility of maintaining the performance in the future. So, the heaviness wasn’t just in the trophy, but also in the aspects it brings to the table.
That Winning Feeling! 🙌 🙌Madhya Pradesh Captain Aditya Shrivastava receives the coveted Ranji Trophy 🏆 from the hands of Mr Jayesh George, Honorary Joint Secretary, BCCI 👏 👏@Paytm | #RanjiTrophy | #Final | #MPvMUM
Scorecard ▶️ https://t.co/xwAZ13D0nP pic.twitter.com/qDX68IF5UT
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) June 26, 2022
How was the experience of leading the MP team to its maiden title?
It was a nervy start for me as it was my first year as captain. I was a bit nervous before the first game. I had played a decent number of games for MP but going out there as a captain was an extra set of responsibilities. But I enjoyed the pressure. Apart from the nervous beginning, once it started moving on, many challenges came to us in the form of injuries. Also, the likes of Avesh Khan and Venkatesh Iyer were playing for India. All in all, we have that confidence and bench strength to cover up for the injuries and unavailability of players who were on national duties. So, eventually, it worked out.
As a captain, how do you see players delivering under pressure situations, especially in a Ranji Final?
Credit for this should go to our coach Chandrakant Pandit sir because he is the one who imbibed the mindset within us. We have been playing good cricket as we qualified for the semis and before that too, to the quarter-finals. But he made us realise that you have to have characters to step up when the team is in trouble. You cannot win games based on performances. There are certain games where everyone chips in with their respective contributions and then you succeed as a team. That’s the mindset he has put in and the Khadoos attitude he brings to the table and so are we learning from his greatness.
Of captain-coach’s solid partnership & Madhya Pradesh’s maiden #RanjiTrophy triumph. 👏 🏆DON’T MISS as Aditya Shrivastava & Chandrakant Pandit chat after the team’s historic title win. 👍 👍 - By @ameyatilak
Full interview 🎥 🔽 @Paytm #Final #MPvMUMhttps://t.co/NzPgncmV8Z pic.twitter.com/1gPpzvRsm1
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) June 26, 2022
How was the environment in the dressing room when MP was set to face 41-time champions Mumbai in the Final?
I personally believe in playing the condition rather than the team or the bowler. In simple terms, if I’m batting and playing an outswinger, then I should think about what am I supposed to do and what not. The team was moving ahead in the same way, analysing what the opponents are coming up with. How do we handle their batters, how do we play out their bowlers, who do we attack, and whom do we defend? So, the approach wasn’t team-specific. We respect Mumbai cricket; they have won it 41 times and have been a great ambassador of Indian cricket. We were thoroughly respecting that but at the same time, we were focusing on our game on that given day.
After the victory, the coach said, “What father could do 23 years back, the son has done it now.” What does that compliment mean to you?
It’s a privilege; it’s a statement for a lifetime for me. I would like to mention that the father-son thing he mentioned, that’s the kind of rapport we try to maintain in the team. Like if we speak to each other, we see ourselves as brothers. We are one big family that’s trying to set high standards for MP cricket like we did and for the future.
Will the Ranji title win give more exposure to players from Madhya Pradesh?
MP players are being seen everywhere because we are winning games. We won the Ranji Trophy right now and we did well in the one-day games as well. So that’s what winning does to you. And if we keep doing well in the future, you may see more people from the state getting into the limelight.
I hope this win sets a new belief in the U-16, U-19 and even the women cricketers of the state that MPCA talents are enough to win BCCI trophies.
What were the changes you observed after Pandit joined as MP coach?
A very strict disciplinary routine, great organisational behaviour, and he is a person who believes cricket isn’t just played on the field, it’s played off the field as well. Also, a great amount of strategic planning comes into play. Other than that, he always looks at the other side of the coin. He does not just see the things on the surface but tries to see beneath them. And we are continuously learning from him. The army-level discipline he induced helped us achieve this milestone.
A special mention for our trainer Mayank Agrawal. He is a relentless worker. He works day end and day out for the players. Even at 11 in the night if someone approaches him for training, he is always ready to help. Each and every member of the coaching staff are the heroes.
How did the IPL exposure help Rajat Patidar and Kumar Kartikeya succeed in Ranji?
That’s what form does to you. They have been in great form, touchwood and that has been the basic break for us. Karthik stepped up and picked up crucial wickets for us. He has been turning games around. I’d say that we conquered some tough situations because of Kumar [Kartikeya]. As a leader, I can say that he was controlling the entire bowling unit on multiple occasions. And IPL has added to their confidence too, for Rajat as well. They were already performing well in the league stage. So we knew that if we put them in trickier situations, their confidence will help us eventually.
What was the roadmap for the maiden title win?
It happened around a year and a half ago when Chandrakant Pandit sir joined as the coach and conducted camps for us. As soon as the Covid restrictions eased out, we started working in a group of 40-50 people. He made us work like a group and not just some individuals working together. Even when we played our matches, it was all about handling a particular situation that lie ahead. As a group, we were focusing on the process. But the basic thing that happened two years back, has brought the entire MPCA into a system.
🎥 Post #RanjiTrophy triumph 🏆 scenes, straight from the Madhya Pradesh dressing room. 👏 👏@Paytm | #Final | #MPvMUM pic.twitter.com/zR39YSFSLs— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) June 26, 2022
How would you deal with the responsibility that comes with the tag of ‘Defending Champions’?
Whosoever is playing cricket, should understand that the game is going to bring pressure. And Pandit sir always taught us to look at the other side of the coin. If there’s pressure on the other side then it’s responsibility. If you look at it as pressure, it will surely burden you. But if you consider it as a responsibility and maintain this performance, you are going to remain in a constructive mental space. So, we’ll try to do that as a group and make sure that we carry the spirit in future that we had this season. Now people will see us as defending champions so things will indeed get tougher and we all are aware of it.
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