Ranji Trophy: Ex-coach Mumbai Chandrakant Pandit reveals Vidarbha's secret to success

Updated: Dec 22, 2017, 10:03 IST | Harit N Joshi

Former Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit reveals he cited examples of city team's toughness to his Vidarbha side which stunned former Ranji Trophy champs Karnataka in semi-final at Kolkata

There is not just a Mumbai hand in Vidarbha's success in the Ranji Trophy, but the city's rich cricket culture also had a huge influence in the march to their first-ever final. Chandrakant Pandit-coached Vidarbha stunned defending champions Karnataka by five runs on the fifth and final day semi-final contest at Eden Gardens in Kolkata yesterday. The star performer was medium pacer Rajneesh Gurbani, who claimed 12 wickets in the match (5-94 in the first innings and 7-68 in the second dig) to thwart Karnataka's 198-run chase. Vidarbha will take on Delhi in the Ranji Trophy final from December 29 at Indore.

Vidarbha players are ecstatic after their win over Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy semi-final. Pic/PTI
Vidarbha players are ecstatic after their win over Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy semi-final. Pic/PTI

Pandit, the former India wicketkeeper and a successful Mumbai coach, revealed the efforts to instill the winning attitude in Vidarbha. "I am extremely pleased with the fightback of my team. Vidarbha did not have the mindset of a champion team like Karnataka, Mumbai or Delhi. They would give up very soon which was important to change for our progress.

"It was crucial that they start believing in themselves. To inspire them, I would give them examples of my playing days in Mumbai and the culture of the Mumbai team. The never-say-die attitude is what I tried to instill in the Vidarbha team. I mentioned about what we learnt from the heartbreaking Mumbai v Haryana final in 1991. The attitude with which Mumbai played and the reasons for their dominance," Pandit told mid-day from Kolkata.

Chandrakant Pandit
Chandrakant Pandit

Unique preparation
Since Vidarbha had never experienced a Ranji Trophy semi-final, coach Pandit created a mock situation on the fifth and final day of their quarter-final clash against Kerala at Surat to make his players get used to tougher situations. "We played on the final day in a way that would prepare us for crunch situations in the semi-final. That preparation helped us a lot today," said a delighted Pandit. Going into the final day with Karnataka needing 87 to win with three wickets in hand, Pandit advised Vidarbha to be patient. "A calm mind was the key. The team that will show desperation would suffer. It was just a matter of bowling three good balls," said Pandit.

"This match made Vidarbha understand the depth of cricket. Winning or losing is part of the game, but how you do that is important. This is the best nail-bitting finish I have ever experienced as a coach," he added. From rank outsiders to potential title winners, Vidarbha's superlative transformation has made the Mumbai cricketing circuit talk once again about Pandit, who was shockingly dropped as Mumbai coach despite the 41-time champions reaching their second successive Ranji final last season.

Kudos from Mumbai
The former India 'keeper felt that compliments coming from Mumbai have a special place for him. "It is overwhelming. Coaching is my profession and passion. It is extra special when the appreciation comes from Mumbai's fraternity," concluded Pandit.

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