Ranji Trophy 2018-18: Centurian Gugale relieved with knock

"After the 351 knock, I was expecting more out of myself. I was chasing the numbers. Today I didn't," said a relieved Swapnil Gugale after his century against Mumbai.

Maharashtra's Swapnil Gugale plays a shot on his way to a century against Mumbai.   -  Vivek Bendre

In October 2016, Swapnil Gugale — on his captaincy debut — burst on to limelight by cracking an unbeaten 351 versus Delhi, which was the seventh-highest score in Ranji Trophy and the third-highest by a captain in the premier domestic tournament. Since then, however, the runs have dried thick and fast. He has failed to replicate the success and even lost his place in Maharashtra’s team since last season.

No wonder then that having tallied 279 runs in 17 innings since that epic knock at Wankhede, Gugale had a sleepless night ahead of Maharashtra’s Elite Group A tie against Mumbai.

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“It was very frustrating, I can share the last 12 hours. I knew this is my last chance and if I don’t do well I have to start from zero,” a relieved Gugale told after breaking the drought with a fluent 101 on Thursday.

Gugale admitted that he couldn’t soak in the pressure of the triple hundred. “After the 351 knock, I was expecting more out of myself. I got two-three fifties (one), but I couldn’t score a hundred,” Gugale said.

“I was chasing the numbers. Today I didn’t go for the numbers and I didn’t want to think about any milestone, and then it happened. Bhave sir (Maharashtra coach Surendra Bhave) told me during lunch, ‘keep playing session by session, you will get what you deserve’.”

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To get himself in the best frame of mind, Gugale followed his Maharashtra team-mate Ankeet Bawane to Chennai for the TNCA League and the move worked wonders for him.

“I have been playing for Chemplast B in the TNCA League for two years. Usually, I don’t play matches during the off-season. But the TNCA League has helped me get used to different conditions and quality oppositions,” Gugale said, adding, “There, even if you score a couple of boundaries, in the third over itself immediately the point is behind. So scoring runs needs a lot of patience. It’s difficult conditions also, playing in 40 degrees and all.”

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