Ranji Trophy final: Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal thrilled with ‘biggest win’
Vidarbha defeated Delhi by nine wickets in Indore on Monday to win the Ranji Trophy for the first time.cricket Updated: Jan 01, 2018 23:35 IST
Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal said winning the Ranji Trophy ranked even higher than playing for India after his team upstaged former champions Delhi by nine wickets in the final to claim the maiden title at the Holkar Stadium on Monday.
The left-handed opener’s prolific scoring in domestic cricket had earned him an India spot for the Zimbabwe tour in 2016. He got to play just one game in which he scored an unbeaten 55.
However, he led from the front with vital contributions with the bat in a dream Ranji Trophy campaign.
“Winning the Ranji Trophy would be the biggest achievement of my career,” said a delighted Fazal. “I know playing for India was a big high for me because as an individual, you get to achieve that. (But) I have always been a team man. Winning the trophy for the team is a big thing.
Congratulations to the new Ranji Champions 2017/18 #VIDARBHA well done my friend #Akshay urf Mukesh 😜 Top effort by this young fella #Gurbani #RanjiTrophyFinal #Bsports proud clothing partners & sponsors pic.twitter.com/7CKNfRnbwf— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) January 1, 2018
“I have been leading Vidarbha since my age-group cricket days. And to lead a Ranji team is not an easy thing,” he added after the win with a day to spare.
“The win is no less than a fairytale. This feeling can’t be described. As a cricketer, we have always dreamed of winning Ranji Trophy. It is the biggest thing in our career…For now, we are on seventh heaven. But we have to be down to earth and start our work tomorrow.”
The Vidarbha players and cricket officials had one hero – coach Chandrakant Pandit. It was the latest triumph for the former Mumbai and India player, a highly respected coach for whom it was the first season with the team.
“Definitely, he’s (Pandit) is a task-master,” said Fazal. Vidarbha hugely benefitted from former India opener Wasim Jaffer, who switched from Mumbai to play and mentor the side. For India pacer, Subroto Banerjee, who has guided Umesh Yadav, is the team’s bowling coach.
Prashant Vaidya, former India pace bowler and Vidarbha Cricket Association vice-president, said he had to chase Pandit before he came on board. Twice champion as a playear, Pandit had thrice coached Mumbai to the title besides guiding Rajasthan to victory in 2011-12.
“Pandit’s presence has been great. I’ve been after him for the past 6-7 years, but for some reason or the other, we couldn’t get him. But this year, we got him and results are there,” Vaidya said.
Pandit said the full support of the VCA had made a difference. “We’ve been following our routines. All credit goes to the players. I’m very happy with the way they’ve respected me,” Pandit, who played five Tests and 36 ODIs, said.
“They can celebrate as they want. They’ve worked hard throughout the season.”
One of the inspired selections was 19-year-old pace bowler, Aditya Thakare, who took two wickets in the Delhi first innings.
Pandit admitted at first he wasn’t keen on picking Thakare, a reserve player for the ICC Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand. But Vaidya’s advice and the teenager’s temperament in the practice sessions encouraged him to hand Thakare his debut.
“The credit goes to Prashant Vaidya. He spoke to me about Thakare, but I wasn’t very keen on playing him. Being a U-19 player, giving him chance to play in the knockout phase would’ve put too much pressure on him.
Whether VCA will make or break him was the kind of thought that came to my mind.
“But Vaidya asked me to take him to Indore. I saw him in the nets and was very impressed. Even Fazal seemed impressed and said ‘sir we should go with him’,” Pandit said.
VCA will give Rs 3 crore as prize money while the team will get another Rs 2 crore from the BCCI.
Delhi skipper Rishabh Pant was disappointed after the resurgent team was halted so close to claiming the trophy following the nine-wicket loss.
“The team that played better won. Unfortunately, we failed in the final. We played well throughout the season, but not in the final,” he said.
“We’ve been doing well at all levels. The coaching staff supported us well, but we didn’t repay their faith in the final,” Pant added.
Vidarbha pace bowler Rajneesh Gurbani, Man-of-the-Match for his eight wickets, including a first innings hat-trick, thanked Pandit for helping him make technical to his bowling.
“Right from the first game, we had on the back of our mind that we must win the trophy, and we have finally done that on a special day. A big thank you to Chandrakant sir, who has made technical changes in my bowling. When he is around, I have nothing to worry.”