Vijay Hazare Trophy: Gujarat way of team building

Gujarat has been a formidable limited-overs side for sometime now. It reached the Vijay Hazare Trophy final in 2010-11 and has won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy twice in the past three years. This year’s triumph in Vijay Hazare is a vindication of what long-term planning in the times of knee-jerk reactions can do.

The triumphant Gujarat team.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Gujarat's Jaspreet Bumrah castles Delhi's Unmukt Chand in the Vijay Hazare final. The paceman bagged 21 wickets in the tournament.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is technically a domestic tournament. But there is nothing domestic about it. Like a powerful magnet which attracts every single iron filing from a large pile of sand, it has held on to top players and their accompanying glamour quotient like none other.

Yet, for scores of Indian fans, the word domestic is only associated with the likes of Ranji, Vijay Hazare, Duleep and of late Syed Mushtaq Ali. And December 2015 was the time when some of that glamour finally touched the ‘domestic’ scene. So we saw Shikhar Dhawan and Ishant Sharma turn out for Delhi, R. Ashwin and M. Vijay for Tamil Nadu, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma for Mumbai and the biggest of them all M.S. Dhoni for Jharkhand.

“It’s a no-brainer that top players playing Vijay Hazare Trophy will give a huge fillip to the tournament stakeholders — players, fans, associations, BCCI,” Gautam Gambhir, Delhi skipper and a successful India opener, told The Indian Express.

“When I started playing for Delhi, I had the privilege of observing top cricketers. Even things like arranging my kit bag I learnt there, besides a lot more important things. So it’s an advantage to everyone.”

For the younger among the lot, a display of skill, with the seniors around would certainly help. As Tamil Nadu coach M. Sanjay said, “The tournament has a new format. There are no zones. It’s all-India now. This is the time to show your talent!”

Through the tournament, there were many who did. Like Gujarat’s Jaspreet Bumrah, who with 21 wickets emerged the highest wicket-taker and in the near future might well be in the reckoning for national team selection.

“He has performed amazingly in one-dayers,” said R. P. Singh, an India paceman who in spite of not wanting to be termed one, is indeed a mentor-like figure to the Gujarat bowlers. “To bowl one change, with the white ball, is a little difficult but in my opinion, he has bowled really well.”

“He has got a bit of pace. He has got a superb yorker. He even got M. S. Dhoni out with a yorker. The other thing is that his action gives him a slight advantage. It takes people a little bit of time to pick him. He is ready to play for India.”

Coming as it did in a season leading up to the World T20, the likes of him might have to wait. With India playing very few one-dayers, except in Australia this month, and even the Asia Cup being turned into a T20 extravaganza, chances might be few and far between. But it can certainly act as a spring board.

Even as the looming T20 season lends the context, even when devoid of it, these performances contribute to a winning culture which when built over the years ultimately helps these states contribute to the national pool. The most recent of examples is Karnataka.

Gujarat has been a formidable limited-overs side for sometime now. It reached the Vijay Hazare Trophy final in 2010-11 and has won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy twice in the past three years. This year’s triumph is a vindication of what long-term planning in the times of knee-jerk reactions can do. “We worked really hard as a team,” said captain Parthiv Patel. “We have chopped and changed a lot of things, dropped a few senior players and got in youngsters. We have given them a longer rope. And now winning for Gujarat is something very, very special.”

“The beauty about the State team is that you build it from scratch,” said Singh who moved over from Uttar Pradesh recently. “Like how (Mohd.) Kaif did for us in UP. Parthiv has built this team along similar lines. He has been captain for 10 years. He has picked players, hired professionals so that the team does well.

“His desire was that along with his own performance, the team also progresses. Because when you win championships, when you play finals, that’s when your boys play more. The examples are Bombay, Delhi, Karnataka… Maybe Parthiv is slowly taking Gujarat in that direction.”