Vidarbha were not the favourites to win the Ranji Trophy title. But, playing against seven-time champions Delhi, Vidarbha had nothing to lose. They were unbeaten in the season. They had won big matches and with big margins. Playing their first Ranji final, the team could have been overwhelmed by the occasion, but it did not. They pulled off another top performance and beat Delhi by nine runs to lift their maiden title.
On the field, there were many performers for them. Leading from the front was captain Faiz Fazal who scored centuries in crucial matches for them. Wasim Jaffer was the guiding light, bowlers like Rajneesh Gurbani made the headlines. The team also had players like Wakhare, Neral and other who dished out performances that led their team to a successful campaign. But there was one man who worked behind the scenes to help Vidarbha lift the title. It was their coach Chandarkant Pandit.
The famed coach explained after the win that Vidarbha players had the talent to win but lacked self belief. He, as a coach, ensured that they learn and execute. This also gave them belief to win the games.
“May be the culture we have seen in the history of Vidarbha cricket. They have qualified for the knockouts but could not take further steps. I feel that the mindset and believe in them, I felt was more important when I joined them. I always felt that every individual player has talent. But probably they have not been tested in the tough situations. This is where they started learning and believing. So that was the major change. Young players who played with senior and they wanted to win. Probably the self was not there earlier,” Pandit said.
Pandit has been associated with many teams and this was his seventh Ranji title. Last year, he was with Mumbai but was asked to leave. He joined Vidarbha and led them to their maiden title.
“It never gets easier because it is a prestigous tournament that we always look forward to. Every player, every team wants to hold that cup. So, naturally the pressure is always there. Anybody cannot say it is easy because once you may be taste that but you need to taste more,” he said.
Vidarbha beat Delhi after the seven-time champions set a 29-run target. Vidarbha took a 252-run lead in the first innings and then bowled out Delhi for 280 in the second innings. Pandit said that Vidarbha did not prepare for this season in a different manner.
“There was nothing extra-ordinary but we prepared what the game demands and that is what we were trying to follow. We did a lot of match stimulations, to come into match situations and handle them in the match coming in the season. We gabe them the responsibility to handle the challenge. We worked on the skills as well. They were given the tasks and that had to be fulfilled which was out basic aim,” he said.