Madhya Pradesh veteran Devendra Bundela will look to use his 20-year first-class experience to conquer Mumbai in Cuttack today
Madhya Pradesh are one step away from making their second appearance in a Ranji Trophy final. But before that, they will have to overcome 40-time champions Mumbai in the semi-finals starting at Cuttack today.
Madhya Pradesh's Devendra Bundela en route his 115 against Mumbai during a Ranji Trophy match at Wankhede last year. Pic/Suresh KK
Despite the challenge at hand, MP skipper Devendra Bundela felt that this could be the year when his side can lay their hands on the elusive
'Hoping to enter final'
"We only played one Ranji Trophy final — in 1998-99 season against Karnataka — when Chandubhai (Chandrakant Pandit, current Mumbai coach) was our captain. I learnt a lot under him. I have been leading MP since 2010, but we have never won this trophy. This year, we are doing well and I am hoping that we can win the title this year," Bundela told mid-day.
The 38-year-old also hinted at end-of-season retirement. "This may be my last year in Ranji Trophy, but I would like to continue my association with the game," said Bundela, who made his Ranji debut during the 1995-96 season against Tamil Nadu at Indore.
The right-handed batsman has scored 9097 runs in 148 first-class matches. "You have to motivate yourself to play. I love playing and that's why I am playing even today. Performing and helping MP win is what motivates me to keep at it," said Bundela.
Bundela, who has played over 100 Ranji Trophy matches, was quick to point out that money is not a motivational factor for him. "You can only keep playing if you love the game. When I started out, I used to get R2000 per game. I'd still be playing if I were paid the same amount. Scoring a century and contributing to a winning cause is a great feeling," said Bundela, who has 25 first-class centuries to his record.
Today's semi-final against Mumbai will remind Bundela of the 1996-97 one played against the kings of domestic cricket in Indore although he didn't trouble the visitors. Batting lower down the order, he scored three and nine and went wicketless while opening the MP bowling in the first innings.
Last year, Bundela scored 115 during a Ranji league match against Mumbai at Wankhede Stadium. There is no reason he can't do an encore.