Irani Cup: Living his dream, Fazal hopes to clinch the title too

Vidarbha's Ranji Trophy title-winning skipper Faiz Fazal is excited about the prospect of playing against Rest of India in the Irani Cup.

Faiz Fazal led Vidarbha to the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy title.   -  R. V. Moorthy

 

Even before his side clinched the Ranji Trophy title, Vidarbha captain Faiz Fazal had set his sights on the Irani Cup. That had drawn criticisms from the fraternity as many felt Fazal was being over-confident.

But the Vidarbha skipper had the last laugh as his young team got the better of Delhi in the summit clash of the Ranji Trophy to book a place in the Irani Cup.

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And on Wednesday, when Fazal would walk into the VCA Stadium for the toss against Rest of India, he would be living his dream of his own team in a Irani Cup fixture, that too for the first time.

“It is a great feeling. We have had some good preparation. We are again trying out the match simulation process—something we did in the pre-season as well,” Fazal tells Sportstar.

Much before the season began, Vidarbha coach Chandrakant Pandit had ensured that the boys were accustomed to the match situation. And that policy worked wonders for the team. In the Irani Cup too, Fazal hopes to benefit from it.

But then, the team will be under pressure.

After phenomenal success in the Ranji Trophy, Vidarbha faltered in the limited-over tournaments—Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy.

Fazal, however, is confident of pulling off another win—this time at home. “It is true that we could not play to our potential in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Ali T20. But we got good starts in both the tournaments. It’s just that we could not capitalise on that,” Fazal says.

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He, however, makes it clear that Irani Cup will be a new beginning for the team. “It is a new tournament, and definitely more challenging. With Ravichandran Ashwin featuring for Rest of India, it certainly makes them a strong team. But it is an opportunity for all of us to perform,” a confident Fazal points out.

During the Ranji Trophy, Fazal’s captaincy was appreciated by cricket experts and the skipper admits that he would follow the same formula that clicked in Ranji Trophy. “There will definitely be a home advantage for us. It is important we focus on the longer format again, and we will be hoping to finish off the season on a high,” he says, adding: “It would also be good if we clinch the Irani Cup title. Only a few teams have won both the titles in one season.”

With the skipper brimming with confidence, Vidarbha would certainly give it a try.