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'Team Has a Winning Mindset Now' - Vidarbha Coach Chandrakant Pandit

Pandit has now led Ranji sides into four successive final, winning three of those. In the last two seasons, the 57-year-old former wicketkeeper has managed to transform the young Vidarbha outfit into a match-winning unit.

Devadyuti Das |Cricketnext |February 8, 2019, 4:57 PM IST
'Team Has a Winning Mindset Now' - Vidarbha Coach Chandrakant Pandit

Mumbaikar Chandrakant Pandit has become the ‘man with the Midas touch’ especially when it comes to the Ranji Trophy. Twice winning the title as a player with Mumbai (1983-84 and 1984-85) and then six times as coach, the last two coming with the unfancied Vidarbha team.

Pandit has now led Ranji sides into four successive final, winning three of those. In the last two seasons, the 57-year-old former wicketkeeper has managed to transform the young Vidarbha outfit into a match-winning unit.

The work ethics that he has instilled and the khadoos (stubborn) ‘never-say-die’ attitude has percolated even to the youngest of the players too. Pandit spoke CricketNext about helping Vidarbha defending their Ranji crown, the top performers through the season and getting back on the field immediately to start preparation for the Irani Trophy.

Excerpts from an interview…

Two seasons, two titles now. How would you sum up the Ranji Trophy campaign this year?

CP: Last season there was no pressure of retaining the title, this year there was pressure of being the champions. This year we had a better group than last year, so there was additional pressure to win again. I am sure the way boys have played as a unit, this would give them a lot of pleasure.

Last year some critics called Vidarbha’s win as a fluke. Do you think defending the title will help break that myth?

CP: The team has played in Ranji Trophy for many years before they finally won the title. Vidarbha have played good cricket and done that for two seasons in a row. I am sure that is going to raise the confidence. The players’ mindset is changing, they know how to win and they are winning more matches now.

Vidarbha

Who were the top performers for Vidarbha this season?

CP: Wasim Jaffer has been outstanding throughout the season, the way he has been batting. He has lifted the whole team. Skipper Faiz Fazal batted really well in the first 5-6 games, got hundreds. Fazal has led the team wonderfully with all the planning and strategies.

(Akshay) Wadkar has also batted really well. Ganesh Satish initially was in good form in the season. Aditya Sarwate’s all-round contributions were also really crucial.

I would say batting has not clicked, especially in the knockouts. We would have wanted more runs from our top batsmen. In final, we could have played much-much better. Fortunately, Sarwate was outstanding. (Akshay) Wakhare and (Akshay) Karnewar also came up with good contributions.

Although he didn’t pick up too many wickets in the final, Umesh Yadav was a top performer in the quarterfinals and semifinals. How important was his presence this season?

CP: Of course, Umesh Yadav’s contribution were also outstanding in the knockout matches. We didn’t start off well, there was lot of pressure. We just had 5 or 6 points after the first four games but we picked up so well. We continued the momentum later in the season. That was just great to see. They never looked satisfied and were always keen on bouncing back.

How would you compare the two title-winning seasons?

CP: Last season, a lot of games were one-sided. The semifinal against Kerala this year was played on such a tough track and match finished in two day. But we managed to handle that so well. It was anybody’s game but our mindset was different. That shows the character of the entire team. We don’t depend on one particular player. Apart from Wasim, his presence on ground and dressing room made a lot of difference, the way he guided the young players. He was a great help for me, he knew my nature and way of working from his Mumbai days.

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Youngster like Karnewar only played in 3-4 games this season before being picked for the final. Why did you show so much faith in him?

CP: If you look at last season, Karnewar picked up 16 wickets in three games. He has been very useful in both departments. We always followed ‘horses-for-courses’ policy in all matches. That’s what we did in the final too. We felt he was ideal for this wicket as well. We kept the faith in him.

Players are very much aware of the fact that they might score a century or pick up five-wickets and still not be selected in the next match. They are all prepared for that.

Are you pleased by the progress made by all-rounder Aditya Sarwate?

CP: One must understand that Sarwate also performed well last season. He has been performing with both bat and ball for last two season. I think it is time for the national selection committee to take a look at him. Lot of players from Vidarbha have done well, including Faiz Fazal and the selectors should consider players from our side for India and India A teams as well.

How long will the Vidarbha boys get to celebrate before preparations for Irani Trophy start?

CP: I told the boys that you have until 12 o’clock in the night (on Thursday) to do as much celebration as you can. After that we get back to work and start preparing for the Irani Trophy.

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