Pune: It is often said that a good start leads to a fine end. However, Mumbai, who clinched their 41st Ranji Trophy title at the Maharashtra Cricket Stadium in Pune on Friday, had a far-from-ideal start to their domestic campaign.
Mumbai (237 all out) conceded the first innings lead to Andhra (244) by seven runs in their opening clash at Vizianagaram in October. Aditya Tare & Co then beat Punjab at the Wankhede Stadium with a bonus point. Mumbai never really looked back from then. They topped Group B and clinically went on to pocket Title No 41.
The setback of the opening match was like a wake-up call. "The Andhra match changed our season. Conceding the lead to them was a huge setback for us. When we returned home, we had an open discussion within the team. We needed to change a few things. Talent alone does not win you championships. Our commitment and character won us this title," said Tare, whose team lost in the Ranji semi-finals last season.
The Mumbai team celebrate their Ranji Trophy triumph in Pune yesterday. Pic/PTI
Tare, who has had a good season with the bat, scoring 569 runs in 16 innings at 40.64, ended up setting the record for most dismissals (48) as wicketkeeper in a Ranji season. "Oh, is it?" was his initial reaction when informed of his feat. "It's good… all credit to the bowlers for producing those edges. I've worked hard on my wicketkeeping, but credit to them," said Tare, who caught Sheldon Jackson, Jaydev Shah, Chirag Jani and Deepak Punia in Saurashtra's second innings.
Tare felt he is now ready to play at the highest level. "I believe I can play at the highest level, but I have to improve my game and come up with better performances. As far as I know, I can play there. I'm in control of my work ethic. Winning the Ranji Trophy will make a huge difference and help some of our players break in to the national team. That's how it's always been," he said.
Tare credited last season's coach Pravin Amre before lauding current boss Chandrakant Pandit. "Pravin Amre also deserves a lot of credit for working with the batsmen. He had a tough job in setting this team up. Chandu sir is an experienced coach. He turned around the (work) ethic in the team. He brought in his style of coaching. The consistency in our everyday process developed discipline and good habits within the team," he concluded.