Wasim Jaffer may be featuring in his 10th Ranji Trophy final but Vidarbha coach Chandrakant Pandit is a step ahead of the veteran.
The former India wicketkeeper-batsman-turned coach will be involved in his 11th Ranji final when Vidarbha takes on Saurashtra from Sunday in a bid to defend its title.
After featuring in five finals — four for his home team Mumbai (Bombay then) and one for Madhya Pradesh — during his 21 seasons in first-class cricket, Pandit has done one better in his second avatar.
This will be his sixth final in charge of a team. Having overseen Mumbai’s golden generation — with Jaffer as a youngster — in two finals during his first three-year stint in the early 2000s, Pandit has been one of the most sought-after coaches in the Indian domestic circuit.
Having donned various hats for Maharashtra, Rajasthan (he was the director of cricket during one of Rajasthan’s title-winning seasons) and Kerala before returning to Mumbai, Pandit has established himself as a hard task-master who produces results.
In between, having also been the India Under-19 coach for a World Cup, he was appointed as the Under-19 chief selector but with coaching being his calling, he returned to Mumbai’s folds in 2015-16.
Since then, for the fourth year in succession, the team he has been in charge of has made it to the summit clash.
At times, his tendency to push the cricketers really hard and even pass on too many instructions during a match has not been taken well by some of his wards but the fact that Pandit has delivered results consistently holds him in great stead.
When Pandit took over as the Mumbai Under-19 coach soon after retiring in 2000-01, his mentor Ramakant Achrekar, the coach of Sachin Tendulkar among others, had told him: “You will carry on my mantle of grooming youngsters”.
If Vidarbha can win its second successive title, it will be a fitting farewell by Pandit to his coach, who passed away four weeks ago.
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