Pandit: ‘Staying together’ the mantra for confident Vidarbha

Chandrakant Pandit, the Vidarbha coach, outlines the shift in approach that has enabled the team to garner success this season.

Chandrakant Pandit admitted that “we have to strengthen our middle order.”   -  Prashant Nakwe

Besides coaching Ranji Trophy winning Mumbai teams, Chandrakant Pandit also has experience overseeing development programmes of Rajasthan and Kerala and coaching its junior and senior teams. Now, as coach, he has helped steer the Vidarbha team to the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals; his association (he took over as the team’s coach in July) has resulted in a positive change of mindset in that team.

Vidarbha will play Kerala in Surat from December 7 to 11.

Dwelling upon Vidarbha’s progress to the second stage of the Ranji Trophy, immediately at the conclusion of its last league match against Himachal in Nagpur, the 56-year-old Pandit said: “Every team wants to win, that’s the reason they play in the tournament. Vidarbha has good talent, but the players needed someone to guide them properly. Every player who has got talent should be nurtured properly, shown faith and given his exact responsibility. The main thing was that the players bonded well and stayed together. That’s the mantra for the team; they enjoyed each other's performances and believed that all is not difficult.”

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Pandit further explained: “Fortunately, the young players are really doing well, they are very obedient, they are willing to do whatever is given to them. They started to believe that staying together makes a lot of difference. We tried to create competition for each player, between openers Faiz Fazal and Sanjay Ramaswamy. When we beat Punjab (by an innings at 117 runs), they started believing in themselves. Bengal (Vidarbha won by 10 wickets) was the other match. I tried to put into their minds that they should not wait for home games.”

Middle-order hole

Talking about the road ahead and the professional players, Pandit said: “Now we have to prepare for the tough teams. Ganesh Satish has been doing a fantastic job. He’s getting runs. The players look up to Wasim Jaffer. His experience is guiding them on the field and that’s helping me too. But we have to strengthen our middle order. We cannot depend on the front-line [batsmen] alone. We have a lot of choices in bowling. We need to work more in the middle order.”

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Pandit has already started planning for the five-day quarterfinal. “It’s a different challenge. In the league phase, you have a chance to come back. And in the knock-out, just one chance. One extra day means another 90 overs and that’s long. Now we have to work on that, hopefully we will do that.”

Pandit also spoke about former India seamer Subroto Banerjee’s help. He is the bowling coach of the team. “He’s another experienced hand guiding the fast bowlers on a regular basis. We work on strategies on the field and how to get batsmen out. Vidarbha has qualified for the knockout before, but it was not confident. I came to know they used to give up. Now, I can see that they are not scared to go into the knockouts.”