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Exclusive: Vidarbha Coach Pandit Talks About His Ranji Redemption

Vidarbha’s coach Chandrakant Pandit speaks to The Quint about leading his team to their maiden Ranji title.

Updated
Cricket
4 min read
Vidarbha’s Akshay Wadkar touches coach Chandrakant Pandit’s feet after scoring a century during the Ranji Trophy final.
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Vidarbha beat Delhi convincingly on the first day of the year to be crowned the Ranji champions of this season. In doing so, they become the eighteenth team to win India’s premier domestic tournament.

Vidarbha, in their maiden triumph, owe a lot to their head coach Chandrakant Pandit who won the trophy for a seventh time; fifth time as coach and twice earlier as a player.

Last season, Pandit was sacked as the coach of Mumbai after the team lost to Gujarat in the final. He had a pretty successful stint with Mumbai over five years as their coach, finishing as champions on three occasions. So when Pandit was given the pink slip, he had a point or two to prove. With this win, he surely had the last laugh. In an exclusive chat with The Quint, Chandrakant Pandit opens up about the challenges faced by him this season before he did the unthinkable.

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After your first meeting with the Vidarbha team what was your reaction?

The probables were already announced when I met them. I wanted to know the players because I had never met them before except a couple of them. I spoke to them and tried finding out what were their strengths and weaknesses. I asked them for suggestions which will help us. They were satisfied with my approach. I told them that we should play to win every match and trophy.

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If you can pick any one of them, what do you think was your major influence on the team?

It was definitely discipline which I believe is a major factor. I always believe in process rather than results, so this needed to be inculcated in the team. I told them let us not run after results and focus more on routine and process which will lead us to the results. I think the boys have adapted to it nicely. Initially there was some problem but now they are well versed with the routines.

Vidarbha’s team with the Ranji Trophy trophy after the final.
Vidarbha’s team with the Ranji Trophy trophy after the final.
(Photo: PTI)

What does this win mean for the Vidarbha team? How will it change things?

Like Mumbai, this team didn’t have a cricketing culture. I wanted to bring in that. Every player should play with pride for his state. Now, you can see the culture slowly creeping in. Every player should dream to play for the country and state. They need to have the sense of pride when they are representing a state or their country. With pride will come the culture. They have to imbibe the habit of winning, which will eventually make the difference. A culture needs to be developed were the U-14s and U-16s will look up to the senior team.

As a coach how satisfying was this win?

Every cricket coach, player and team in the country aspire to lift the Ranji trophy because it is the most prestigious domestic tournament in India. I have been part of 11 finals but this win is different. More than winning, it was how we played. I have been telling the boys about it. The team has won seven out of their nine games and all seven wins were convincing wins. This will surely build their confidence.

Jubilant Vidarbha team celebrating Ranji Trophy win with their coach Chandrakant Pandit.
Jubilant Vidarbha team celebrating Ranji Trophy win with their coach Chandrakant Pandit.
(Photo: PTI)

What do you think is your secret to win the Ranji Trophy?

I am a good observer. I have observed my players well and have made good use of the knowledge to yield results. Apart from this, I am known to be a hard task-master. I am good at getting the job done.

How important was Wasim Jaffer in your scheme of things?

Wasim made a lot of difference. He is an experienced cricketer and has been playing first class cricket for so long. He has also represented the country. His experience has certainly helped me. Since he has worked with me earlier he knows my coaching style, which in turn helped immensely. He was the link between me and the players. He used to pass on the messages as intended. This made a huge difference. Many players were scared of me so I used to ask him to help me with them. On the field also he was of great help. He knew exactly what I wanted; be it bowling changes, field placing etc.

The ecstatic Vidarbha team runs on to the field after the winning runs were scored.
The ecstatic Vidarbha team runs on to the field after the winning runs were scored.
(Photo: PTI)

Where do you see Vidarbha go from here?

This is just the start for Vidarbha. The current crop of players is talented enough to lead the team to future success. But they should always be grounded. I don’t want our first trophy to be our last one.

Do you want to change anything in the current format of Ranji Trophy?

I and Wasim differ on this. He wants the old format but I am happy with this one. You now get the opportunity to play the toughest teams. The present format of six matches makes it more competitive. I am fine with this kind of format and it is a good step forward for Indian cricket.

Should all matches in the Ranji Trophy consist of five days?

I don’t mind that. International Test matches are of five days and that one day extra makes a difference. Playing two innings over five days is very competitive so I am all for five days of cricket in Ranji games.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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