The stumps weren’t uprooted from the ground, there was no joyous wave of Maharashtra players running out from the ground. Even the customary high-fives were missing.
Instead, the Maharashtra players, with coach Surendra Bhave at the back, formed a line and shook hands with the Bengal players. Later, at the insistence of photographers, the team gathered into a huddle, breaking out into half smiles.
Only half an hour later, did a roar went emanate from the dressing room, startling the crowd of journalists around Lakshmi Ratan Shukla, the Bengal skipper.
The exultations grew in volume followed by loud applause. It was learnt, that the players had applauded a moving speech by Bhave, with a few confessing that the post-game talk left the dressing room emotionally charged.
Bhave, the only person in this current Maharashtra group who has played a Ranji final — that more than two distant decades ago — said that he had not really prepared a victory speech, instead choosing to speak straight from the heart.
“The boys didn’t really celebrate the victory. It just showed that they wanted to win this semifinal in even better style. However, I just told them that what they had done was a fantastic achievement. Finishing a semi in three days is absolutely brilliant and basically I just wanted to tell them how proud I was of them,” he said.
It is this particular trait of Bhave, that of not overdoing things, that his wards say has been the most helpful. “Bhave sir, never really over-coaches you. He is not always in your ear, telling you to do this or pointing out that you did this wrong. He allows you to analyse your own performance, offering a few suggestions only if he feels the need. He is brought out the best in everyone and the collective feeling is to win the championship for Bhave sir,” says Kedar Jadhav.
The Maharashtra bowling turned it around for them against Mumbai in the second innings. Before going out to bowl, seamer Anupam Sanklecha, who took four wickets that day, says Bhave’s simple words did more good to them than an extravagant pep-talk. “He told us that we were great bowlers who had the ability to take all their wickets. He told us that he didn’t need to spoon-feed any of us as to where to bowl. He trusted us and that showed in our performance,” he says.
Not allowed to lose
Bhave was the captain of the Maharashtra team which lost the 1992-93 final to Punjab in Ludhiana. Invariably, question about the current squad’s similarities with that team, and that of Rohit Motwani (the current skipper) with Bhave himself, pop up. The 47-year-old Bhave took a brief pause, as if searching for the exact words. Then with a smile on his face, he chuckled, “No he isn’t. I lost that final, he is not allowed continued…