Ranji Trophy: The Gurbani story of patience

Vidarbha bowler Rajneesh Gurbani had Dravid to guide him at India A; on return to Ranji Trophy, theory remains the same from Wasim Jaffer.

Rajneesh Gurbani was the man-of-the-match in the Ranji Trophy 2017-18 final. (File photo)   -  Vivek Bendre

Rajneesh Gurbani, Vidarbha’s superman with the ball, had a story to tell last season. A large chunk of the side’s gravy train moments was anchored by the banana swing bowler as he would claim a wicket almost every 20 balls.

Gurbani finished as the second-highest wicket-taker [39 wickets] at an economy of 3.04.

Vidarbha is set to appear in its second consecutive Ranji final [against Saurashtra] starting on Sunday, but the Gurbani tale has been a lot different this time around. This is his story of learning.

The 26-year-old’s India A sojourn delayed his Ranji entry and then, he picked up a wrist injury while fielding against Mumbai. But he still remains a tricky card for skipper Faiz Fazal. This Gurbani, after attending the Rahul Dravid school of education, is patient and mature.

Speaking to Sportstar on the eve of the Ranji Trophy 2018-19 final, he said, “When you play India A, you may not get wickets every 20 balls. It can also go up to 40 balls. Dravid sir told me to stay patient. Every bowler has a tendency to try out different things out of impatience.

“I understood that you can’t grow unless you develop patience.”

"Dravid sir told me to stay patient," says Rajneesh Gurbani.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

 

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Gurbani picked up only six wickets in five games in the ongoing season, but the semifinal against Kerala had flashes of the artsy finger work. “I know that I have the calibre of hitting the good length most of the times. The more I keep at that, the batsman won’t be able to score. I should not go astray and try out different things if he isn’t dismissed easily. Even in Ranji matches when a partnership is going strong, you don’t get wickets easily. I learnt how I should stick to my plans and not let the batsman have the upper hand.”

The Pujara factor

"The first thing I should do is not think about the player who I am bowling to. If Pujara gets into my head, I may lose patience. Cricket is such a game that anybody can throw away his wicket anytime. Even Pujara can be out for 0. How I plan against every player, I will follow the same pattern with him."

– Vidarbha pacer Rajneesh Gurbani


India A coach Dravid also taught him how not to be desperate for a wicket. “I have to figure out if it is my day or not. I go for wickets then. If it is my partner’s day, I try to support him by checking runs,” he said.

Jaffer at nets

Gurbani is lucky to read the batsman’s side of story through the legendary Wasim Jaffer. The domestic giant is a ready tutorial for the Vidarbha bowler. The key, once again, is patience.

“He has been guiding me since last season. I can swing both ways. I would bowl inswing, and try to deceive the batsman in the fourth or fifth ball. Nobody knew my strength last year. But if you see this season, all teams know ye dono karta hai, iska wo waala ball dangerous hai  (he does both, that delivery is dangerous).

Rajneesh Gurbani celebrates after scalping a hat-trick against Delhi in the Ranji Trophy final.   -  R. V. Moorthy

 

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“Wasim bhai told me that if my inswing is going good, I should persist with it for a longer period. The patience will hold me good in the same rhythm. At the nets, he would often tell me, ‘I was expecting you to bowl this one now’ and ‘I knew you would bowl an outswinger’. His thinking helps me stay ahead of the batsmen,” Gurbani added.

Second final

Having gone through the grind last year, Gurbani feels Vidarbha is lot more relaxed this season.

“Last year, we were playing as underdogs. This time, we are playing more as a team. We have been approaching the knockout games as just another match. Looking at it as a semifinal or final may invite more pressure. We have been there, done that. But we are grateful to be playing another final,” he said.