With five wickets having fallen for seven runs in 35-odd minutes, on the field, Day Five turned out to be forgettable for Team Uttarakhand in its Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Vidarbha.
However, after the defeat, Uttarakhand’s players were in for a pleasant surprise.
Moments after match referee Prakash Bhatt adjudged Umesh Yadav the Man of the Match and the teams gave a round of applause for veteran umpire Sudhir Asnani, who could well have officiated his last first-class contest, Uttarakhand’s players were spellbound for the next half-an-hour or so.
Suru Nayak, the chief of Uttarakhand’s selection panel and a former Test cricketer, requested Yadav and veteran Wasim Jaffer to give advice to the bunch of newcomers in first-class cricket. And the only two Test cricketers to have featured in the match obliged without any fuss.
Both Jaffer and Yadav asked the players to form a semicircle in the corridor between the spacious dressing rooms at the VCA stadium, and ask questions. The duo opened up the youngsters’ minds on various topics related to elite-level cricket.
Jaffer emphasised the importance of “building the innings rather than playing too many loose shots.”
He also advised the youngsters to start analysing their own games since “today’s generation faces the big challenge of adapting to three different formats with little gap in between.”
‘Study round the year’
The stalwart also underscored the importance of off-season preparations. “When you have to score 75-80 per cent marks, you don’t achieve it by studying only one week before the exams; you have to study round the year. Similarly, if you prepare and put in the hard yards in the off-season, only then can you succeed consistently during the season,” he reasoned.
Immediately after Jaffer’s class, Yadav was flooded with queries, primarily by the bowlers. The burly fast bowler asked them to “increase physical fitness, especially the lower body, so that you can bowl at full steam all through the day,” he said.
More importantly, for a newer bunch of boys, Yadav explained the art of maintaining the ball, especially on “ patas (flat decks) like the one here where you have to make the ball reverse to keep scoring in check and pick wickets.” The entire squad, and not just the bowlers, listened to it in rapt attention.
Uttarakhand’s players would have learned much while watching Jaffer plunder a double-hundred and Yadav scalp nine wickets. The advice by the two top players, too, would have been valuable.