Ramesh Powar ended his first-class career yesterday with 470 wickets to his name. That figure would have been a lot less had it not been for one man who forced him to concentrate on his off-spin: Vasu Paranjape.
Paranjape (77), the former BCCI coach, who deserves far more recognition for his contribution to Mumbai and Indian cricket, coached Powar in the late 1990s at the Elf Vengsarkar Academy at Oval Maidan.
Ramesh Powar with his daughter Riddhi and son Aayan at Wankhede Stadium yesterday. Pic/Sameer Markande
Powar put a full stop to his first-class career while playing for Gujarat who drew with his former side Mumbai in their last Group 'B' Ranji Trophy encounter at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday. He did not forget to remember Paranjape in his post-match interaction with the media. “I am what I am today because of Vasu sir," said Powar.
Paranjape told mid-day on Saturday, "Ramesh used to concentrate on batting, but I thought he had the guts to become an off-spinner. He could turn the ball and he had a good idea of flight. We worked together for two-three years and it paid off."
"He used to hit balls above the coconut trees at the Oval ground, but I used to urge him to concentrate on his bowling," said Paranjape.
Powar was in Sameer Dighe's Mumbai Ranji Trophy team and when the Sachin Tendulkar-guided side won the 1999-2000 Ranji Trophy by beating Hyderabad in the final at Wankhede, the then Mumbai coach Ashok Mankad emphasised Powar’s contribution to the triumph through his performance in the Super League game against Bengal in Kolkata.
Powar ensured Bengal’s Ranji exit with 92 off 77 balls in Mumbai’s second innings and followed it up with five for 46. Mankad told reporters then that Powar was the find of the season.
Though Powar gave credit to Paranjape, the former Dadar Union captain attributed the off-spinner’s success to his own hard work. "Results came only because of his efforts. I worked with him, but Ramesh happily did everything I told him to do." Destiny plays a big part in a sporting career. Powar is yet another example. He recalled: "I played one U-19 game for Mumbai after which I was confused — whether to make cricket my profession or get on with my life. But the Elf-Vengsarkar Academy came up and Vasu sir and Makarand sir pushed me hard. Achrekar sir’s teachings on technique, values and principles taught me a lot of things."
Powar is not done with cricket. “I don’t see any quality spinner around. It would be great if I could contribute towards producing one or two good off-spinners who can play for the country or state,” he said.