Mumbai cricket team's fall down to one administrator: Chandrakant Pandit

Updated: Jan 02, 2019, 14:26 IST | Harit N Joshi

Vidarbha coach Chandrakant Pandit blames MCA's Vinod Deshpande after city's Ranji ouster

Mumbai cricket team's fall down to one administrator: Chandrakant Pandit
Mumbai skipper Siddhesh Lad. Pic/Suresh Karkera

It is not often that the winning coach talks more about the opposition after a thumping victory. But yesterday was different. Mumbai's abject surrender to Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy hurt the defending champions' coach Chandrakant Pandit more than anyone else at the VCA Stadium in Jamtha (Nagpur) and he lashed out at his former team.

For, ex-India stumper Chandrakant Pandit had guided Mumbai to two consecutive Ranji Trophy finals in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons and won it once before being replaced by Sameer Dighe as coach. It was the first time that Pandit came face-to-face with his ex-team in the Ranji Trophy since he took charge of Vidarbha in 2017. Last year, Vidarbha claimed their maiden Ranji Trophy title under Pandit's guidance.

Vinod Deshpande (right)and Chandrakant Pandit
Vinod Deshpande (right)and Chandrakant Pandit

Mumbai's big defeat
Yesterday, Vidarbha beat Mumbai by an innings and 145 runs with a bonus point. After posting a mammoth 511 in the first innings, Mumbai were bowled out for 252 in the first innings and then folded up for 114 on following on. The match ended inside three days. Mumbai are now out of contention for the knockouts with one league game against Chhattisgarh remaining.

While the players will be pulled up for Mumbai's spineless performance against Vidarbha, Pandit felt the blame should not entirely fall on the team members. "One cannot only blame the players [for this debacle]. One Mumbai administrator is to be blamed for all this disruption - Vinod Deshpande," said Pandit.

"He [Deshpande, the former vice-president of the Mumbai Cricket Association] is responsible for the mess in the Mumbai team along with those who supported him. The team were functioning smoothly when Dilip Vengsarkar was the Cricket Improvement Committee's chief and Milind Rege was chief selector a couple of years ago. Deshpande had a problem with what I was being paid. His constant utterances were made to satisfy his ego. He ensured I am removed as the coach under the pretext that players were not happy with me and that I was too strict. If that was the case then why did some of the players tell me that they are missing me just before the start of this game. It shows that some players really want to play that kind of [tough] cricket and they want right direction," Pandit told mid-day.

Deshpande, however, refuted Pandit's claims. "Pandit would be away with the Mumbai team for nearly 10 months due to the neutral venues system. And since he was also the Director of the MCA indoor academy at BKC, we wanted to ensure that functioning at BKC shouldn't be affected due to his absence. The one-man, one-post issue was brought up in the Annual General Meeting before it being taken up in the Managing Committee," said Deshpande, who was chairman of the BKC indoor academy.

Dressing room atmosphere
The Mumbai dressing room culture also came under fire from Pandit. "Despite Vidarbha enforcing the follow-on, there was music being played in the Mumbai's dressing room. It showed that the players were not hurt by their performance. I don't know how legends like Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar will react when they come to know about this kind of dressing room atmosphere," a disappointed Pandit said.

Wasim Jaffer, a Mumbai man, smashed 178 in the first innings to help Vidarbha post 511. Then, left-arm spinner Aditya Sarvate ran through Mumbai's line-up in the second innings, claiming 6-48 as the visitors were bowled out for 114 in 34.4 overs.

"To see Mumbai being bowled out in 34 overs was very difficult to accept. It was disappointing to see the mindset of Mumbai players. Mumbai never looked like a unit on the field. The body language to fight it out was just not there. Vidarbha players executed the plans really well. Full marks to Wasim with the way he batted. He showed how Mumbai used to play, but still the batsmen didn't learn to apply themselves. The players looked lost," Pandit concluded.

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