While the feeling is yet to sink in completely, the big question has already popped up --- what was it that catapulted Rajasthan, bottom-last till the previous year straight up to the top-most honour of Ranji Trophy winners? After all, creating history isn't expected of underdogs. Perhaps, that’s exactly what worked in our favour — the surprise element, and our reputation.
Even though the professionals came in handy, others like Deepak Chahar, Ashok Menaria, Pankaj Singh and Vivek Yadav came to the fore and made all the difference. Yet, Rajasthan's resurrection wasn't just about a bunch of young lads with fire in their belly. The dream was in the making for the past two years.
The regime change under Sanjay Dixit brought in path-breaking changes that were meticulously conceived and executed with cricket as the priority. Coach Tarak Sinha was then roped in to head the academy. While his technical fluency helped the game grow, his guidance helped the academy find the long lost perspective.
Rajasthan adopted a system that worked wonders for them i.e. organising matches at all age-group levels, among other steps. While most states were busy promoting their domestic T20 leagues, Rajasthan quietly put their house in order to prepare the kids for the longer format.
Batting professionals in Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Rashmi Ranjan Parida and myself, were then brought in.
We spent quality time in the off-season to get rid of the chinks in our armour. Rajasthan had identified both its personnel and their roles way back in August while most teams were not even thinking about the season yet. You would be surprised that the squad which defeated Vadodara in the Ranji final is almost identical to the one which played in the Buchi Babu tournament in August. This shows consistency in the selection process provided continuity and also stability.
In the end though, it was the dressing room that made all the difference. This is one of the happiest bunch I’ve ever been a part of, with players not only looking after each other but also feeling genuinely happy in each other’s success.