Zaidi ready for a final fling
Eighteen years ago, Ashish Winston Zaidi was a young lad playing his maiden Ranji Trophy match for Uttar Pradesh against Railways at the Kamla Club Ground in Kanpur.
Eighteen years ago, Ashish Winston Zaidi was a young lad playing his maiden Ranji Trophy match for Uttar Pradesh against Railways at the Kamla Club Ground in Kanpur. When he uprooted the middle stump of Prakash Karkera, many remarked: "This boy will make history for UP one day." Now, Zaidi is on the verge of making history in the Ranji Trophy final between Uttar Pradesh and Bengal, starting on Sunday at the KD Singh 'Babu' Stadium here.
The 'Old War Horse' of UP cricket is just four wickets away from becoming the highest wicket-taker among pace bowlers in the domestic circuit. The record of 351 wickets still stands in the name of former India medium pacer Madan Lal.
"Certainly, I am looking forward to this milestone. And, I am confident of reaching it here. It will be a double joy for me if we win the coveted title also," said Zaidi on Friday, adding, "I have done well this season and hope to continue my form in the final."
Despite being 'pressured' by a few members of the UPCA senior selection committee to quit the game before the start of the season, Zaidi launched his campaign in style. At the end of the semi-final against Mumbai, he had a total of 348 wickets, including 29 this season.
So far, Zaidi has 426 first class wickets in 154 matches with a career best of 9/45 against Vidarbha. He has taken five wickets nine times and 10 wickets in a match twice.
"I don't care about the nature of the pitch. I know my strength and I always believe in myself," said the 34-year-old Allahabadi, adding, "I am desperate to break the record of Madan Pa Ji."
Zaidi, who still remembers the team's fascinating show against Mumbai in the semi-final in 1997-98, and subsequent final against Karnataka at Bangalore, feels that playing at home will be an added advantage for UP.
"Besides my own bowling record, I am quite eager to see UP win the title here," he said, making it clear that he had no plans to quit the game after the final. "These are rumours. I still have a few years of cricket left in me," said the lanky speedster.