Engulfed in disappointment after the Ranji Trophy heartbreak, the Karnataka team was desperate to sign off the season on a high. But their ordinary record in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy only made the task more challenging.
With five uncapped players named for the country’s premier T20 tournament for state teams, the selectors had taken a bold gamble.
And the Manish Pandey-led unit vindicated the selectors’ punt with a sensational effort of an unbeaten run en route to championship.
Two unheralded players in Rohan Kadam (536 runs) and V Koushik (17 wickets) played a key role in helping Karnataka annex their maiden title. Other inexperienced campaigners like KC Cariappa and Manoj Bhandage complemented the senior men in the side as Karnataka became the first team from the South to bag the title since the inter-state championship was rechristened in 2009-10.
“Players like Kadam and Koushik are very talented white ball players. But they hadn’t received their chances. It was a brave call from the selectors to have put faith in them,” coach Yere Goud told DH on Friday.
Karnataka’s ruthless show saw them equal the national record of highest number of consecutive T20 wins. “We wanted to treat every match like a knockout. And in T20, the possibility of staging a comeback is difficult once you suffer a bad start. Players were disappointed with the Ranji Trophy exit. We were desperate to win this title,” Goud said.
In his first assignment as the Karnataka coach, Goud worked with Manish Pandey, who was making his captaincy debut. “Pandey we all know is an attacking batsman. And he leads the side with the same mindset. He always talks about winning games and his international experience was of big help as well,” Goud offered.
The season saw Karnataka test their bench strength to the hilt. Goud said the goal will be to unearth and give chances to more emerging players. “Ahead of the next season, we are planning to have more camps for specific areas like wicketkeeping and fast bowling and that will open doors for many players with potential,” he said.