Ranji Trophy: Mumbai-bred pacer Rajneesh Gurbani leaves Karnataka in disarray

Updated: Dec 22, 2017, 11:28 IST | Subodh Mayure

It was Karnataka who pushed Mumbai out of reckoning for this season's Ranji Trophy semi-finals

It was Karnataka who pushed Mumbai out of reckoning for this season's Ranji Trophy semi-finals. A week later, a Mumbai-bred player demolished Karnataka's dreams of another title triumph in the national championships. Rajneesh Gurbani didn't just hit the final nail in Karnataka's coffin by getting rid of last man S Aravind, whose uppish shot flew to gully where Apoorv Wankhade accepted the last catch of the match at Eden Gardens. Gurbani's match haul of 12 wickets was worth its weight in gold.

Vidarbha's Rajneesh Gurbani appeals during the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Karnataka at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Pic/PTI
Vidarbha's Rajneesh Gurbani appeals during the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Karnataka at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Pic/PTI

Gurbani, 24, was very good at football and athletics. He won several medals at inter-school championships in Mumbai. At 11, the pacer trained at Dilip Vengsarkar Academy and also performed well in Giles and Harris Shield tournaments for St Mary's school in Mazgaon.

"Those days are memorable. Though I spent more time travelling (to matches), I enjoyed playing there. When I was 16, my father got transferred to Nagpur where I got selected in a group of 10 fast bowlers which was picked by Subroto Banerjee sir (former India pacer)," he recalled. Probably, the biggest thrill for the young fast bowler – apart from figuring in a Ranji Trophy semi-final – was to bowl alongside India star Umesh Yadav. "It was my dream to share the new ball with Umeshbhai for Vidarbha. He played two matches this season, but I was not in the playing XI then. Finally, I got a chance in the semi-final and my dream came true. "Though I claimed more wickets than him in this match, he bowled beautifully from other end and eased the pressure. His support and encouragement was immense," Gurbani told mid-day over the phone from Kolkata.

Vidarbha coach Chandrakant Pandit's advice proved to be golden. "Chandu sir insisted that I shouldn't get satisfied with two or three wickets. He made me believe that I can be a match-winner. I think our work during the pre-season camp paid dividends," said Gurbani. About next week's final against Delhi in Indore, Gurbani said: "We are going to play just another match of this season against Delhi and we are confident of beating them."

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