Old friends reunite as Ratra takes charge as Punjab coach

Former India wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra will join long-time friend Yuvraj Singh at Punjab as its coach.

“This is a new challenge and I am looking forward to it. I am hopeful of delivering the goods for the Punjab side,” says Ajay Ratra.

They have been friends since the U-19 days, and now, Yuvraj Singh and Ajay Ratra will share the Punjab dressing room as the latter has been appointed the team's coach for this Ranji Trophy season.

The former India wicketkeeper-batsman, who played six Tests and 12 ODIs, has already started the preparation for the season along with Yuvraj. Though he has worked as a wicket-keeping and fielding coach for India U-19 at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru for the last couple of years, this will be Ratra’s first assignment as a full-time coach. “This is a new challenge and I am looking forward to it. I am hopeful of delivering the goods for the Punjab side,” Ratra told Sportstar.

A member of the India U-19 team, which won the World Cup in 2000 under the captaincy of Mohammad Kaif, Ratra’s name was suggested to the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) by Yuvraj and Punjab captain Harbhajan Singh. 

Ratra is looking forward to work with old friends. "This time Yuvraj and Harbhajan are taking a lot of initiative to ensure that the team does well. Yuvi has already joined the camp in Mohali and is working on his fitness. It is good to be back together," Ratra said.

While the former Haryana cricketer initially wanted to be associated with the Haryana Cricket Association, he did not hear from the association. “Yes, I wanted to, but they never got back. In the age of professionalism, my objective is to ensure that Punjab performs well in the tournament and I will stick to that,” the 35-year-old, who played 99 first-class matches, said.

With Ratra entering the coaching scene, Punjab would be hoping to turn the tide when it starts the Ranji Trophy campaign against Himachal Pradesh on October 6.