Amol Muzumdar wants his memorable Ranji Trophy debut season for Andhra Pradesh to eventuate in an India call-up for next month’s home series against Australia.
Muzumdar, who somehow missed out being picked for higher honours despite flowing with runs throughout his 19 years of first-class cricket, reckons that his age (38) should not be a hindrance to achieve something that is missing from his cricketing CV.
How does one account for Muzumdar’s optimism level at a time when experts are calling for a younger Indian cricket team? Hear it from the batsman himself: “To be very honest, considering the kind of form I am in, I can still make it. Why not, why not?”
The former Mumbai captain scored five centuries in eight games at 78.90 including a hundred in each innings against Himachal Pradesh last November. “Forget about age,” he stresses, “if the Indian team requires ‘A’ slot to be filled and I match that requirement, then why not. I have no doubt that I’d do well if given a chance.
“I’ve got runs, I’m getting runs. If there is a need from Dhoni & Co… and if Team India requires me to fill a middle-order slot, I don’t think age should come into it.” Muzumdar switched to Andhra this season after a year’s gap before which he represented Assam.
“I looked at the Andhra offer as a very good challenge. There has to be a shift sometime in your career and that, by the grace of God, has come at the right time.” Muzumdar spent a good part of last year in Holland where he played and coached at the club level.
“I have been going there for the last two years as player-cum-coach and I had lots on my plate there. I trained very hard in Holland where they take their cricket very seriously.
The presence of professional trainers is significant. It is hardcore training, unbelievable training. Let’s say the last time I trained so hard was at the BCA-Mafatlal camp (in the early 1990s under Frank Tyson). In Holland, I literally did 20km of cycling everyday as well as running up and down the sand dunes,” he says.
Doubtless, it will be a dream come true for 38-year-old Muzumdar if his case interests the national selection committee. But then, his tender age of 19 didn’t matter when he scored 266 on his first-class debut for Mumbai against Haryana in the Ranji season of 1993-94.
The solitary win which Mahendra Singh Dhoni needs to become the second most successful skipper for India with 77 triumphs under his leadership in ODIs. He will surpass Sourav Ganguly (76 wins) and stand behind Mohammed Azharuddin (90). Only six other captains in world cricket have more victories than Azhar and Ganguly. They are: Ricky Ponting (165), Allan Border (107), Hansie Cronje (99), Stephen Fleming (98), Graeme Smith (92) and Arjuna Ranatunga (89).
The number of sixes Yuvraj Singh needs to become the fourth Indian and ninth player in the world to hit 150 or more sixes in a career lasting 280 matches over the last 13 years. He will join Shahid Afridi (298 sixes), Sanath Jayasuriya (270), Sachin Tendulkar (195), Chris Gayle (193), Sourav Ganguly (190), Ricky Ponting (162), Chris Cairns (153) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (152) in the list of big six-hitters.
The number of matches won by India out of 11 ODIs played at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali near Chandigarh. The last encounter was India’s only match against England at this venue — a game which the home team won by five wickets in October, 2011.