When Sachin Tendulkar walked onto to the field on Monday, he went straight into the middle of the huddle formed by his Mumbai team-mates, speaking for a whole two minutes before taking their positions.
What followed was a dominant display by their bowlers, which eventually took the home team to its 40th Ranji title.
It was a victory of a champion team and the notion was not lost on the Master Blaster. “We won for the 40th time. Mumbai has again showed that it is a champion side. We have a good team, nice blend of youngsters and senior players,” Tendulkar said after the triumph.
Mumbai has been a team with a long history of success in the Ranji Trophy, with 40 wins from 44 finals. With Monday’s victory Tendulkar has taken his own tally to five Ranji titles. “It is a wonderful moment for Mumbai cricket, not just for the players but also for the administrators. It’s been a team effort and I hope it continues in the future as well,” he said.
During the season, Mumbai players have attributed much importance on Tendulkars presence as a guiding force for them. With two centuries and a half century this season, he scored 332 runs in four matches.
However, it was during the league phase, before the legend’s entry into the side, that Mumbai had found themselves on a sticky wicket, where even a spot in the knockout round seemed difficult. “There were moments when the going was tough, but that is when the team stuck together and performed brilliantly,” Tendulkar praised.
This was Mumbai’s first final in three years, with pressure mounting on the captain Ajit Agarkar to deliver, especially after a tumultuous 2011/12 season, which even him walking out on the team midway through a game.
Tendulkar credited Agarkar for leading by example. “I feel very happy, especially for Agarkar, who had a rough season last year. It was really difficult for him. But this season he led from the front. He performed when it mattered,” Tendulkar added.