The Bihar boy who broke Bedi’s record

Ashutosh Aman, who ended Ranji Trophy with 68 wickets with his slow left-arm spin, feels bowling to Plate group batsmen was easier; Elite is a different challenge.

Aman realised that he was closing in on a record after he managed to claim 50 odd wickets in the season.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

Ashutosh Aman has never had the opportunity to interact with Bishan Singh Bedi. But he remembers meeting the former India from a distance a few years ago. Bedi, the then coach of Jammu and Kashmir, had come for a Ranji Trophy fixture at the Air Force ground in Palam. And Aman, an employee of the Indian Air Force was on duty at the ground at that time. He, however, could not muster the courage of walking up to Bedi and start a conversation.

But on Wednesday, life came a full circle for the left-arm spinner, who scripted history by going past Bedi’s record of most wickets in a Ranji Trophy season.

Bedi had scalped 64 wickets at an average of 8.53 for Delhi in the 1974-75 season, and 45 years later, Aman — playing his first season of Ranji Trophy for Bihar — managed 11 wickets in the last encounter of the season and ended the tournament with 68 wickets in his kitty.

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“I never thought of making or a breaking a record. When the season got underway, I was not even sure whether I will be able to deliver the goods, but things went fine,” Aman told Sportstar.

He only realised that he was closing in on a record after he managed to claim 50 odd wickets in the season. “That’s when my team-mates started telling me that I have a chance of breaking his (Bedi’s) record. But to be honest, I never thought that would happen,” Aman said.

Now that he has broken the old record, Aman doesn’t want to draw any comparison. “He is a legend. You cannot even think of drawing a comparison. I am just happy that I could help my team,” he said.

The 32-year-old, who hails from Gaya, shifted to Delhi after he got a job in the accounts department of the Indian Air Force in sports quota. He made his List A debut in November 2014 for Services.

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Aman featured in three more 50-over games for Services in the 2017-18 season before returning to his home state, after it was cleared to play the Ranji Trophy.

“I wanted to represent my state, so when I came back, they told me to play for district-level selection matches. Playing for Gaya, I made it to the squad for Vijay Hazare Trophy and then eventually, booked a berth in the Ranji Trophy team,” he said.

In the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Aman claimed 14 wickets in eight matches, with an economy rate of 2.10. That was enough for him to break into the four-day team.

“Playing first-class cricket was always a dream and I am happy that I could make it count at the first go,” Aman said. In the Ranji Trophy, Aman has bagged nine five-wicket hauls.

But he agrees that he had it a bit easy against the Plate group batsmen, most of whom were inexperienced. “The elite group has a different challenge and compared to that, the plate group had new teams and had players who were playing for the first time. So, it was relatively easy but then, it is never very easy to get wickets,” he pointed.

Aman also makes it clear that Bihar coach, Subroto Banerjee, and captain, Pragyan Ojha — who missed out on most of the games due to injury — motivated him a lot. “Subroto sir and Pragyan bhai boosted my confidence. I was not sure how to approach them, given that they come with huge experience. But they were very cordial and I learned a lot from them,” Aman said.

Now that the tournament is over, Aman has set his sights on the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. “I want to work on my weaker areas and definitely I will be able to do better in the T20 tournament,” he said.

This has been a season of memories for the spinner from Gaya, but he cherishes the wicket of Manipur’s Sagatpam Singh, which helped him go past Bedi’s feat. “That was the happiest moment of my life,” Aman said.

He hopes to come back stronger in the T20s.

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