Vidarbha coach Chandrakant Pandit dedicates Ranji Trophy title to late Ramakant Achrekar
Coach Pandit dedicates Vidarbha's second successive Ranji Trophy triumph to guru Achrekar
On the first day of this year, when Vidarbha beat Mumbai in a Ranji Trophy game at Nagpur, little did their coach Chandrakant Pandit imagine that he would have to fly back to Mumbai the next day. That happened because his childhood coach Ramakant Achrekar passed away. After attending Achrekar's funeral on January 3, Pandit travelled to Rajkot for Vidarbha's January 7 league game against Saurashtra.
The pain and anguish of losing his guiding force stayed with Pandit and yesterday, he dedicated his role in Vidarbha's second successive Ranji Trophy triumph to Achrekar after Saurashtra were beaten by 78 runs in Nagpur.
"I dedicate this Ranji Trophy triumph to Achrekar Sir. I still remember, when I started off my coaching innings as a Mumbai U-19 coach in 2000, Achrekar Sir blessed me with the words, 'Do coaching just like me,' " Pandit told mid-day over the phone from Nagpur yesterday. "Whatever I am today is because of Sir. He taught me how to play this game sincerely, work hard and how to guide players to win matches," said Pandit.
Pandit, guided Mumbai to two successive Ranji Trophy wins in 2002-03 and 2003-04 and then in 2015-16 helped Vidarbha to win first their Ranji Trophy title in 2017-18. He reckoned this was his toughest Ranji Trophy final. "The pressure was intense. Both teams were performing similarly for four and a half days. Till the fourth day it was 50-50," Pandit said.
Pandit revealed that he had sleepless nights on all those four days. "Right from the Day One [Sunday], till yesterday [Wednesday], I struggled to sleep. We scored only 200 and lost seven wickets on the opening day and my sleep went for a toss. I kept thinking about how to tackle the situation and what could be the right plan to have an upper hand over the opponents. I also spent those nights motivating myself and that helped me to motivate my players," Pandit said.
When the opposition team have a batsman like Cheteshwar Pujara all teams - be it Australia or England - have worries, but here, Vidarbha's plan came to fruition and Pandit gave credit to his left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate, who returned with a match haul of 11 wickets.
"We all know how big a batsman Pujara is, but he too must have been under pressure to perform in a final. The plan materialised only because of Aditya, who bowled beautifully; all credit goes to Aditya [who dismissed Pujara in both innings]. It's the players who make the coach," he added.
'Learnt tricks from Mankad, Umrigar'
Vidarbha coach Chandrakant Pandit's accurate pitch-reading and thorough planning helped Mumbai and now Vidarbha have learnt how to outclass opponents. Pandit said he picked up a lot of tricks from late India cricketers, Ashok Mankad and Polly Umrigar. "When I was playing at the U-19 level, Ashok Mankad gave me a chance to lead Mafatlal which had seven to eight Test players. He taught me how to strategise and plan. Polly Umrigar used to teach me about reading pitches among other things. These valuable inputs are helping me in each game," recalled Pandit, 57.
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