‘There was pressure, and runs had to be chased’

Vidarbha wicketkeeper-batsman Akshay Wadkar, who scored his maiden Ranji Trophy century on the third day of the final against Delhi, says he just kept his eyes on the ball and played his natural game.

Akshay Wadkar, the 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman from Vidarbha hammered an unbeaten century on Sunday to help his side gain the upper hand.   -  R.V. MOORTHY

It was a perfect finish to the year for Akshay Wadkar. The 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman from Vidarbha hammered an unbeaten century on Sunday to help his side gain the upper hand. And after the day’s play, Wadkar admitted that he enjoys batting under pressure. Excerpts…

READ: Ranji Trophy Final: Wadkar, Neral leave Delhi in a spot

As it happened: Ranji Trophy Final , Day 3

Question: You got your first Ranji Trophy century within five matches, how is that feeling?

Answer: I worked hard. I was not there in the first three games, then I performed well in local matches — scored centuries and a couple of 50s, and came back to the side. I wanted to perform in every opportunity. In the quarterfinals also, I played well when the team was in crisis. I play under pressure. I have confidence in myself, so has Chandu (Chandrakant Pandit) sir.

How important was it to fire given the situation of the match?

Starting was important and Wasim (Jaffer) bhai told me to just keep an eye on the ball. I just watched the ball and then played my natural game.

How did you handle the pressure after Wasim Jaffer departed?

There was pressure, and runs had to be chased. It was important to stick around there, building partnership was important. Had there been another loss of wicket, it would have been difficult to cross the lead. The scores would have been equal then.

On whether playing with Aditya Sarwate for the same club — Nav Niketan — helped him pair well...

Our combination was good. I know his mistakes, and strong points. It’s similar for him. We communicated well. If I feel he is making errors or is looking nervous, I make it a point to speak to him and ease out things. That helps.

On the strategy behind allowing Siddhesh Neral to go for the shots...

He was in good touch, and after surviving twice, he said: “My luck is good, let me play. Aaj run ban gaye, kal pata nahi kya hoga.” So, I allowed him to play.

How did it feel to score a ton in front of your family, who had come to watch you play?

I wanted to play throughout, and try to remain unbeaten and help my team win.

What would be the strategy for the team on the fourth day?

Sir (Pandit) has not said anything yet. Wicket is not difficult to bat on, and we will perhaps keep on doing that. Nothing is finalised yet.

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