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Vidarbha had strategic and tactical plans to counter Pujara: Fazal

NEW DELHI: The batting failure of star batsman Cheteshwar Pujara hurt Saurashtra badly in the Ranji Trophy final against Vidarbha, as the defending champions clinched their second successive title on Friday. Not surprisingly, Vidarbha had specific plans to contain and dismiss Saurashtra’s star batsman.

“We had plans for each Saurashtra player. The way they played in the Ranji Trophy this year, it was tremendous. The way Saurashtra entered the final of the tournament after beating Kartanka was incredible. And the credit goes to Cheteshwar Pujara and Sheldon Jackson. Saurashtra are tough opponents. We were prepared against them, both strategically and tactically,” Vidarbha captain Faiz Fazal told in an exclusive interview.

Vidarbha won their second successive Ranji Trophy title with a comfortable 78-run win over Saurashtra in the final, becoming just the sixth team in the history of the tournament to win back-to-back titles.

Captain Fazal and his team’s plans to counter the Pujara threat worked well for the Ranji champions.

“We had planned certain field settings for Pujara, to not give him easy runs and the rest you know, how it helped us,” Fazal said.

Pujara, who was one of the big architects of India’s maiden historic Test series triumph on Australian soil recently, scored just one run in the Ranji Trophy final. His scores read 1 and 0 and the right-hander was dismissed by left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate in both the innings.

Man-of-the-Match Sarwate, in fact, claimed career-best match figures of 11/57 in the final. He took six for 59 in the second innings to complete a maiden 10-wicket haul in a first-class match.


Sarwate not only took 11 of the 20 Saurashtra wickets that fell to his left-arm spin, his 49-run knock in the second innings also played a key role in his side setting the stiff 206-run target for Jaydev Unadkat‘s team.

“I kept telling him (Sarwate), “keep your calm”. I asked him to bowl in certain areas and create pressure on batsmen. He was phenomenal in our victory,” Fazal said.

Some might have thought Vidarbha’s maiden title triumph last year was a ‘fluke’. Fazal feels their second title win on the trot should be enough to silence those critics, who felt his team just got lucky.


“I don’t want to answer anyone; they have got the answer automatically. If someone thinks that our first season victory was a fluke, then answer me how performing in a five-day match can be a fluke? You are playing amazing cricket for three months and then you enter the final and fight for the title. You play for five days against another good team in the final. You make plans with your batsmen and bowlers. Luck cannot work for three months,” the skipper said.

Unarguably one of the best domestic coaches in the country, former India cricketer Chandrakant Pandit, of course, had a very big role to play in his team’s title-winning run. Be it strategy, discipline or his well-known work ethic, Pandit’s role has been instrumental in Vidarbha’s title victory.

“He has been an asset for the team. He is a brilliant coach and an amazing strategist. His game-plan knowledge is amazing. That’s all because of experience. He has made a huge difference,” Fazal told


The Vidarbha captain also praised veteran batsman Wasim Jaffer and senior pacer Umesh Yadav who joined the team for the knockouts.
The run-machine Jaffer finished the season as the highest run-getter for Vidarbha and the second-highest overall. He scored 1037 runs in 15 innings (11 matches) at an average of 69.13, including four centuries and two half-centuries. He hit 120 boundaries and eight sixes in the tournament.
“Jaffer bhai is ‘King’ of the team. Umesh Yadav is the team’s elder brother. Jaffer has an abundance of experience with him. He is very calm and composed. He is a true ‘run-machine’,” Fazal said.
“Umesh’s presence gave stability to our team. He is very open and approachable. He has the ability to bowl 140 kmph plus, which we hardly see in our country,” Fazal signed off.
Source : timesofindia

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