Vidarbha coach Chandrakant Pandit over the moon less than a year after dejection
After enduring dejection less than a year ago at the same Indore ground as Mumbai coach, Vidarbha's 2017-18 Ranji-winning mentor is over the moon
Coach Chandrakant Pandit stood dejected at the Holkar Stadium less than a year ago after Parthiv Patel's Gujarat team beat the former India wicketkeeper-coached Mumbai in the final of the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy. Yesterday, Pandit was in no hurry to leave the turf after his new team, Vidarbha achieved their maiden Ranji Trophy title by beating Delhi by nine wickets. Pandit, who lost his job as Mumbai coach after that January 10-14, 2017 loss, was roped in by Vidarbha to guide the Faiz Fazal-captained team.
To say that Pandit worked wonders for Vidarbha would still sound like an understatement considering the manner in which they went about tackling a Delhi side which had India veteran Gautam Gambhir as their leading light. Set a measly 29 for victory, Vidarbha completed the formalities in just five overs at the stadium that had welcomed the family members of the cricketers.
After Wasim Jaffer, one of the three professionals in the side, pulled Kulwant Khejroliya towards the fine leg boundary, the team broke into a joyous huddle. They gave each other a bear hug and soon clicked pictures with the trophy. With due credit and admiration for the local Vidarbha players, the Mumbai factor in the triumph is unmistakable. Apart from Pandit, they had Wasim Jaffer, the former Mumbai and India opening batsman. "Mumbai has a rich history. They are used to winning the Ranji Trophy whereas Vidarbha in the last 80 years didn't even cross the quarter-final stage. This was only the third time that they qualified. Winning the trophy for this team was a challenging job," Pandit told mid-day from Indore yesterday.
Helping a team to win the Ranji Trophy is not new for Pandit. Apart from being in Ranji-winning Mumbai teams, he coached Mumbai to victories in 2002-03 and 2003-04. However, he revealed that Vidarbha's triumph was more satisfying. When asked how he felt at the off season camp, Pandit said: "Nobody can say that we are going to win, but of course, we had the motivation and were willing to follow the process to achieve something big." Pandit used his praise brush consistently: "Everybody has contributed, everybody has performed — each and every player contributed to the winning cause be it Rajneesh Gurbani or young Aditya Thakare," he said.
The road ahead
The coach now wants to see the development of a winning culture in all their teams. "Apart from winning the Ranji Trophy and gaining confidence, I will be delighted when the real cricket culture is seen in Vidarbha. The under-14, 16 and 19 teams should think about winning and that will be the biggest achievement in my book," he added. Rajneesh Gurbani was named man of the match for his eight wickets which included a six-wicket haul and hat-trick in the first innings.
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