PJ Hindu Gymkhana regain Kanga title
Marine Drive Gymkhana clinch 'A' division title after 38 years thanks to pacer Mohit Avasthi (5-40) and left-arm spinner Salil Agharkar (3-33)
PJ Hindu Gymkhana inscribed their name on the Dr HD Kanga Cricket League 'A' list of champions after long 38 years yesterday. Their last triumph came in 1981 when they had stalwarts like Ashok Mankad and Eknath Solkar playing for them.
The Marine Drive gymkhana emerged top of the table with 15 points in seven games while Payyade Sports Club and New Hind Sporting Club ended up with 13 and 12 respectively.
In a low-scoring game, hosts PJ Hindu were bowled out for 107 with Vishal Bhilare and skipper Anup Revandkar scoring 25 and 16 respectively.
The hosts also enjoyed a benefit of 18 runs which came as a result of Sind's slow over-rate. Pacers Nitesh Salekar (6-33) and Vikaschandra Singh (3-27) were the chief wicket-takers for Sind before the visitors were bundled out for 90.
Mohit Avasthi (5-40), the league's top wicket-taker with 20 scalps and left-arm spinner Salil Agharkar (3-33) did the job for PJ Hindu. Agharkar has been in fine form and ended the tournament with 18 wickets.
Captain Revandkar, who represented India U-19 in 2007, attributed the triumph to total teamwork. "I feel proud to lead PJ Hindu, a team which were led by great cricketers like Ashok Mankad sir and Eknath Solkar sir. This achievement was made possible by every team member," said Revandkar, who felt the turning point for his side was when they beat defending champions MIG Cricket Club by dismissing them for 60.
The 1981 PJ Hindu Gymkhana team which emerged Kanga League champions. Ravi Thakkar (left), Eknath Solkar, Santosh Walawalkar (partly hidden), Ashok Mankad, Milind Gunjal, Rohan Shah, Jignesh Sanghani (in front of Shah), Nakul Rege and Amol Shejale. Pic courtesy/Nakul Rege
The captain revealed that his side was motivated by left-arm spinner Harshal Merchant, who is also a part of IPL team Rajasthan Royals support staff. "Harshal was very instrumental in our triumph by conducting training camps. His disciplined approach and motivation played a vital role in building our team over the last few years. Late-comers for practice sessions were fined R100; it was his idea which worked very well," he added.
In 1981, the Ashok Mankad-led team beat Cricket Club of India (CCI) on the first innings at the Brabourne Stadium.
Former Railways all-rounder and Eknath's brother, Anant Solkar recalled how he contributed to team's first title win nearly four decades ago: "We played our last match against CCI and won on first innings lead. I scored 81 and Eknath claimed four or five wickets in that match."
Ex-spinner and Mumbai selector Ravi Thakkar, another member of PJ's class of 1981, remarked: "It's a superb achievement. I represented the Gymkhana for 19 years and I am very happy for them. I really enjoyed playing with Ashok Mankad sir, Solkar brothers, Pandurang Salgaonkar and others.
Off-spinner Dilip Jadhav, who was also part of the 1981 title-winning side was at the ground yesterday to witness his gymkhana's second Kanga triumph. "Though it has come after 38 years, it's a great achievement. The boys played well and they deserved this title," said Jadhav.
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