Tare: Winning Ranji means the world to me

"It (Winning the Ranji Trophy) means the world to me, be it as a player or captain. My aim or attitude is to win games for Mumbai. That why you play in the Ranji Trophy," captain Aditya Tare said after the match.

Mumbai skipper Aditya Tare (in photo) and coach Chandrakant Pandit motivated the team to its first title in three years.   -  Prashant Nakwe

The loud roars of the young Mumbai squad after winning its 41st Ranji Trophy title kept on echoing even after Aditya Tare and Abhishek Nayar accepted the coveted trophy from the chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil at the Maharashtra Cricket Association’s stadium at Gahunje.

The ecstatic celebrations, which carried on from the field into the dressing room till sunset and a party at the hotel in the night, were understandable since most of the squad members were laying hands on the most-prized possession in Indian domestic cricket for the first time.

“It (Winning the Ranji Trophy) means the world to me, be it as a player or captain. My aim or attitude is to win games for Mumbai. That why you play in the Ranji Trophy,” captain Aditya Tare said after the match. Tare invited senior statesman and vice-captain Abhishek Nayar on the dais for accepting the trophy.

That Mumbai ended up regaining the title that it last won in 2012-13 was a huge turnaround from where it started more than four months ago. In its opening game against Andhra, a team that’s not yet a force to reckon with, Mumbai conceded the first innings lead, starting off Chandrakant Pandit’s return as coach after a decade on a disastrous note.

But Pandit and Tare managed to motivate the team and get the best out of the players as the season progressed to authoritatively pocket the title. “It was tough. Basically, Mumbai team is expected to win. We believe that the beginning is very important. We were very close (against Andhra), but that never put us down,” Pandit said.

“That was the only shock for us this season. The team said we definitely have to go all-out with our planning. We spent lot of time (talking). Probably they must have not liked it, but I had to do a lot of talking and planning. I'm very happy that they've been sticking to the plan.”

While Mumbai were busy celebrating, a dejected Saurashtra outfit made a quick exit after the prize distribution ceremony. But coach Sitanshu Kotak continued to wear a smile on his face. While he drew positives in Saurashtra making the final after starting the tournament from the lowest rung of the tournament, he had no qualms in admitting it was poor catching that turned out be the main distinguishing factor between the two teams.

“We got enough opportunities to create a game out of it and dropped catches – four catches we dropped – cost us the game. In 10 games, I can’t remember four catches being dropped. We dropped a couple altogether,” Kotak said. “It is one of those things and it has been dropped by our best fielders, so that made a difference.”

KEY STATS

41-Ranji Trophy titles Mumbai has won now in the tournament’s 82-year history. The next most successful team is Karnataka with 8 titles.

10-Instances of Mumbai winning the Ranji Trophy final by an innings margin, including Friday's. Besides the 41 titles, they have been on the losing side four times.

48-Victims claimed by Mumbai wicketkeeper Aditya Tare behind the wickets in the season. He created a record for most dismissals for a ’keeper, bettering K. S. Bharat’s (Andhra) tally of 46 in 2014-15.

103- Runs added by Siddhesh Lad and Balwinder Singh Sandhu for the last wicket in Mumbai’s first innings. This was Mumbai’s highest tenth-wicket partnership in Ranji Trophy; the previous best was Ashok Mankad and Sushil Sanghvi’s 87-run stand against Gujarat at Ahmedabad in 1967-68.