Vishal Dabholkar was clearly the star of Mumbai's thrilling, one-wicket win over Tamil Nadu yesterday. The left-arm spinner claimed five wickets in the first innings and returned figures of seven for 53 in the second innings as Mumbai scripted a memorable turnaround in the Ranji Trophy tie and take top spot in Group B.
Mumbai's Vishal Dabholkar (second from left) celebrates after claiming Tamil Nadu's Aswin Crist on Day Four of the Ranji Trophy game at the MCA-BKC ground yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
However, not long ago, Dabholkar's world had turned upside down. He had just finished the 2103-14 Ranji Trophy season as the highest wicket-taker (39) amongst spinners, and a few months later he received a letter from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) stating that his action is 'under observation'. Thoughts of being labelled as 'chucker' haunted the 28-year-old.
"If I had started to think on those lines (of what people would think), I would have got affected further. It came as a shock to learn that my action was under scanner, but I knew what I had to do. I just focused on doing everything correct and waited to get back on the field. I did not get bogged down," Dabholkar told
Salvi, a saviour
The tweaker was understandably not picked for Mumbai in the last season. He hardly played club matches on Mumbai's maidans and confined himself to the indoor academy at the Bandra Kurla Complex where he worked rigorously with Mumbai's bowling coach Omkar Salvi.
"Omkar has been a great help. His inputs really worked for me. I did not have to rectify my action; he made minor corrections in my wrist position. I always believed in myself that I will comeback… I cannot become a bad bowler suddenly. I needed an opportunity and that I got it when the selectors sent me to All-India Buchi Babu tournament (pre-season preparatory tournament) to Chennai in the knockouts," said Dabholkar, who claimed 6-46 in the final against TNCA District XI.
Dabholkar revived Mumbai's hopes of winning against Tamil Nadu after the hosts had conceded the first innings lead. Dabholkar claimed five out of seven Tamil Nadu wickets which fell in the last couple of hours of Day Three on Saturday. Dabholkar allowed TN to add only 22 runs to their overnight score as the visitors were bowled out for 95, setting Mumbai 234 runs for an outright victory.
Mumbai had a shaky start, but Shreyas Iyer (83) and Suryakumar Yadav (58) put them back on the road to victory. The duo added 52 runs for the fourth wicket. Yadav and Siddhesh Lad shouldered the responsibility, adding 61 for the fifth wicket. However, there was more drama in store as Tamil Nadu managed to remove the duo in quick succession. Mumbai lost three more wickets in the space of 24 runs as the contest got more tense. Balwinder Singh Sandhu Jr and Dabholkar held their nerve to give Mumbai a memorable victory.
Coach Pandit thrilled
Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit rated the victory as his finest. "There have been many memorable Mumbai victories that I have been a part of, but this one is right up there because of the limited time we had. All we had was the last session on Saturday to revive our chances. I told the boys we can still win this match if we bowl out TN within 150. I am glad the boys lived up to the challenge," said Pandit.
Tamil Nadu 434 & 95 all out (Vishal Dabholkar 7-53) lost to Mumbai 294 & 236 for 9 (Shreyas Iyer 83, Suryakumar Yadav 58; Rahil Shah 4 for 78, Malolan Rangarajan 3 for 44) by one wicket