Parthiv: We have taken our batting to a different level

"Before the start of the season we discussed about big aggregates like what Panchal has done this season, not someone making 500 runs or thereabout or a bowler taking 30 wickets," said the skipper.

"This team has been together for six or seven years and so the players know their game," says Gujarat skipper Parthiv Patel.

Gujarat skipper Parthiv Patel attributed his team’s improved performance this season to the ability of the batsmen to score big and lift their average.

"We have always had a good run in one-day matches and Twenty20. But in the Ranji Trophy we missed out narrowly in the last four years, either by being short on a few points or on net run-rate. I think we always had a good team, but this year we have taken our batting to a different level. Before the start of the season we discussed about big aggregates like what Panchal has done this season, not someone making 500 runs or thereabout or a bowler taking 30 wickets.

"I think we have ticked all those boxes. And that’s the reason we are here and moreover this team has been together for six or seven years and so they know their game. We had bits and pieces performances, we did not have someone playing it really big in the season. An average of 35 is not considered good, and so we wanted our players to go over 50, 60 and 70 and 100, like Panchal’s and hence he is getting noticed. This happens with other outstanding teams. We told the players that they will get their opportunities... 8 to 10 innings."

Jharkhand skipper Saurabh Tiwary gave credit to the entire team. "This is a big occasion, we are in the semifinal for the first time, thanks to the team performance and the support staff. Shabhaz Nadeem has taken plenty of wickets in the last two seasons. And now we are only looking to perform in the semi-finals."

Tiwary said that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not playing in the match because he’s retired from Test cricket. "But he mentors the team. Whenever we practice in Ranchi, and if he is there, he will have a one-to-one talk with the players. Maybe he will talk to the coach (Rajeev Kumar) today. I do not know if he is coming to Nagpur, only the manager will know," said Tiwary.