Chandrakant Pandit opens his notebook after the team meeting in his room and pens down a lengthy paragraph on Faiz Fazal, Vidarbha’s captain and opener. It was about how Fazal tackled the Kerala seamers in the semi-final in tough conditions. In the book, that Pandit carries everywhere and can be seen jotting down points during matches, there is a line of advise to Fazal as well. ‘Don’t play the flick shot’, that had led to his downfall. Fazal didn’t play that shot thereafter.
The journal habit is something Pandit picked from his late coach Ramakant Achrekar who used to carry a small diary in Mumbai maidaans. He would often scribble on it and later in the evenings, the players would be shown their mistakes and course-corrections would be suggested. Pandit has carried it through his coaching stints, which is gaining a great reputation every year. He has led Mumbai to great success and has now coached Vidarbha to two successive Ranji finals. This will be Pandit’s fourth successive Ranji final.
Pandit is a highly confident man, and he has managed to transmit that belief in his teams over the years. Last July, when he took over Vidarbha, he had startled Prashant Vaidya, vice-president of the cricket association, by asking, “how will the prize money be shared?” When they eventually won, both had a big laugh about it.
He is also a hard taskmaster – sometimes the players do end up getting uncomfortable about his stubborn style. It can be either his way or highway, at times but over the years, the players have understood why he does what he does. He can come across as a school teacher at times, with his stress on discipline and team culture.
Fazal opens up on Pandit’s ways. “He is stubborn for sure. Stubbornness is needed also because it’s good for us. We are a developing team and you need such a kind of person. His work ethic, the discipline he brings to the table. He will make you do things. If people follow his rules, they develop faster. We have seen it in our team. His diary writing has also been really good for us – to correct our mistakes and continue the good things.”
Pandit has maintained his book wherever he has gone to coach – be it Mumbai, Kerala or Vidarbha, the book has been his constant companion. In the earlier days, he used to carry a Dictaphone to record his audio notes but he went retro. “Earlier I used to have recorder with me but many a times I could sense that it’s disturbing players who are about to bat next. It’s important to give space to batsman when he is trying to concentrate. It was then I moved to books, Achrekar sir used to do that. For instance, if Faiz has played any bad shot and I feel there is some technical problem, I note it down,” Pandit says.
However, two players will not feature in his book: Wasim Jaffer and Umesh Yadav. The reason is both have played for the country and he feels they don’t need his assessment. Pandit’s book has flaws and appreciation of each player. He doesn’t only pen down mistakes. “If anybody can dance than why do you need choreographers? If anyone can play music than why do you need DJ? Some might not like my style but later players have accepted it. They understood that I am doing it for them not for me,” Pandit says.
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