RANJI TROPHY 2018-19
You can’t ignore Umesh Yadav from the World Cup squad: Pandit © BCCL
If there were still a few who felt that Vidarbha’s title-winning run was a fluke last winter, they would have been silenced by now. On Thursday (February 7), the team from Central India won its second Ranji Trophy title in a row, beating Saurashtra by 78 runs in the final. While the crown proved his impeccable credentials as a coach yet again, Chandrakant Pandit wishes to see another dream manifest: The former India and Mumbai stumper feels that following their superb performances in the past couple of seasons, it’s high time that the national selectors pick Vidarbha’s players for the Indian team, or at least for India A.
Under you, Vidarbha has won its second consecutive title in the past two years. How does that feel?
Obviously, no one expected us to win in the first year. In the second year, there was pressure to retain the title to keep our reputation. We were playing against better teams, in a better pool. When the BCCI introduced a new rule this time that only five out of 18 teams (from groups A & B) will qualify for the knockouts, it added to the pressure. But we followed the same processes and routines that we stuck to last season.
Of course, Wasim Jaffer has been a key player. Faiz Fazal and Akshay Wadkar got four hundreds each. G Satish was good too. Aditya Sarwate bowled well in the final and throughout the season. And then Akashay Karnewar. Umesh Yadav’s presence in the knockouts was a huge boost. So we had the right combination.
Do you think that some of your players are good enough to play for India?
I feel that the boys must get justice for their performances at the national level. Last year, seven of our boys played in the Duleep Trophy. This year, the selection committee must realise that for a team which has performed so well in the last two seasons, its players must have some calibre. In the earlier days, when Mumbai, Delhi and Tamil Nadu would perform like this, their players would be rewarded with national berths. I’m sure that this selection committee will think along those lines too. If not for the India team, then at least these boys deserve a place in India A. Otherwise, what’s the point in playing domestic cricket and winning matches? This tournament has so much reputation. Why not reward players who do well in it consistently? If you are only going to pick players who do well in the IPL, then why will the players give importance to domestic cricket?
Who are the players who you feel deserve the India cap currently?
Faiz Fazal made 912 runs in the Ranji Trophy last season. This time, he has hit three hundreds in the tournament. ‘Keeper-bat Akshay Wadkar hit three hundreds last season, and scored one this year too. Aditya Sarwate took 29 wickets last season, and 55 this year. And he’s performed with the bat too. These players deserve an opportunity.
The way Umesh Yadav was bowling in the knockouts for Vidarbha, do you think that India should have him in their World Cup plans?
Why not? Forget about the semifinal (where he took 12 wickets against Kerala), the way he has bowled in the final and the quarterfinal (in which he took nine wickets against Uttarakhand) was praiseworthy. I mean don’t look at the quality of the opposition. You can’t ignore him from India’s World Cup team.
What’s the secret of Wasim Jaffer scoring runs so consistently even at the age of 40?
Basically, he loves the game and that’s how he stays motivated. He doesn’t want to give up. He has that simple Mumbai khadoos attitude ingrained in him, because of which he doesn’t throw his wicket away even at his age.