Jayakumar, the man behind Andhra's rise

In the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season, Andhra lost to eventual champion Saurasthra but the side made a strong impression by upsetting a few bigwigs on its way to the knock-out round.

For Jayakumar taking over as coach of a Ranji trophy side was a fresh challenge.   -  Special Arrangement

Unfancied Andhra reached the quarterfinals from the elite group for the first time in the last season of the Ranji Trophy.

Andhra lost to eventual champion Saurasthra but the side made a strong impression by upsetting a few bigwigs on its way to the knock-out round.

The man behind setting in the transformation was former Kerala medium pacer G. Jayakumar.

Jayakumar, the coach of famed club Chemplast, has over the years earned quite a reputation as a technical coach who mentored the likes of Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik, Ravichandran Ashwin and Sanju Samson.

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For Jayakumar taking over as coach of a Ranji trophy side was a fresh challenge. But the start to the season wasn't great as Andhra flattered to deceive in the one-dayers and T20 matches.

"Andhra didn't have a great start with the white ball. But there were a few games which we could have won. For me it was taking out the positives from those failures. To be honest I didn't do anything extraordinary with the boys. They were all young and talented and at this level all you need to do is a little fine tuning. During the pre-season camp I was able to imbibe a sense of discipline and hardwork among the boys. The boys were receptive to my style and it started showing in the results," he said.

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"We backed our strength which was in medium pacers and prepared wickets to suit our bowlers. We had a great run in the Ranji Trophy winning four matches and finishing at the top. A lot of credit should also go to Hanuma Vihari in the way he captained the side. Ricky Bhui took over in Vihari's absence and he was influential both as a player and captain. If not for injuries we would have given a better fight to Saurasthra in the semifinals. Nevertheless it was a good performance from a young side," added Jayakumar who played 25 first class matches for Kerala between 1987 and 1995.

A NCA level C coach, Jayakumar was a handy bowler in his playing days with 52 wickets including two fifers. The 53-year-old, who has now ended his contract with Andhra, has kept his options open and is more than willing to take up the job as coach in his home state. "My contract with Andhra was for just one season. I am free now. I am more than willing to take up the job as Kerala coach if KCA approaches me," he said.

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