Stick together, keep fighting: Kumble to team

Cricket: To be part of Ranji Trophy-winning side is a really big thing

Stick together, keep fighting: Kumble to team


RARING TO GO: Karnataka’s Ganesh Satish (left), Amit Verma and Manish Pandey during a practise session on Friday ahead of their Ranji Trophy final against Mumbai at the Gangotri Glades in Mysore. DH PHOTO/ PRASHANTH H G

“To be a part of the Ranji Trophy-winning team is a really big thing,” Kumble, who led Karnataka to the title in 1996, told Deccan Herald.

“I remember when we won in Chennai against Tamil Nadu, it was Karnataka’s first title win in 13 years. This time also, it’s quite similar -- our last title came 11 seasons back.

“Even then, we were just about regrouping. Yes, there were a few guys that had played for three or four years, but a lot of youngsters were coming through,” the ace leg-spinner went on.  “To be the number one domestic team in the country is a great motivation.

When you look back, it is certainly one of the top achievements. To win a Ranji Trophy means you have done consistently well over a period of time, over three months, against every team and in all conditions.”

Kumble admitted that while there are always expectations at the start of every season, this Karnataka team has exceeded most of them this year. “Rahul (Dravid) being there has been a huge factor, it has certainly helped the team’s cause. The greatest thing is Rahul’s presence. Everybody looks up to him, and he has pushed the boys really hard.

“To their credit, the younger lot has responded very well. The batsmen have been consistent all through, while the bowling has been exceptional. Mithun and Vinay have done brilliantly, Arvind has been more than adequate and the old warhorse, Sunil Joshi, has been contributing as well.

“It would have been great if Rahul had been part of the final,” Kumble noted. “The authorities should certainly have considered advancing the final by a day.”

The former India captain said a couple of the youngsters had pleasantly surprised him with their efforts throughout the season. “Other than Manish (Pandey) and Pawan, and maybe a bit of Amit Verma, I really haven’t seen too much of Gautam or Ganesh Satish. They have all done exceptionally well.

Pat for Mithun
“What is most heartening is the way Mithun has shaped up,” Kumble said. “We all knew he had the talent, he has been a part of the Royal Challengers set-up and he played in IPL II. It was always obvious that he had the pace, but the best part has been that he came in really raw, and has gone out, enjoyed himself and done consistently well. He picked up 11 wickets on debut and once you get those many wickets, the expectations are pretty high. He has not disappointed.”

Mumbai have lost just four of 42 Ranji finals contested, an extraordinary effort by any standards. “They have been there before,” said Kumble, putting their seeming invincibility in perspective. “They are a very determined lot, and they play well as a team.

“They know how to come out of tight situations. I remember a couple of seasons back when then they had no points after the first three games, and yet they finished the season most strongly.

“Obviously, they have always had some quality players in their ranks. This time, there is Wasim (Jaffer), who is a big-match player, then there are Ajit (Agarkar) and Ramesh Powar who have done consistently well. Mumbai is a team you can never take lightly.”
Unlike Kumble, Karnataka’s young turks are definite strangers to the big stage. What would he tell the boys if he spoke to them on final-eve? “Not to think of it as a final, but as just another match,” he was quick on the draw.

“Stick together, fight till the end. It is a five-day game, you must win every session and make it count.

“It’s not just about the first-innings lead. Yes, you can win a game even after losing a couple of sessions because there is time to come back, but you need to seize the initiative early on. And build on it.”

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