Persistent Vinoop makes it count with Ranji comeback

Vinoop Manoharan was Kerala Cricket Association's Player of the Year at 19, but it hasn't been a smooth ride for the all-rounder since then.

Vinood Manoharan has made it to the Kerala cricket team for the Ranji Trophy this season.   -  Special Arrangement

Vinoop S. Manoharan's impact on Kerala cricket was sudden. He was Kerala Cricket Association's Player of the Year at 19 and began impressively enough with the senior team, taking 27 wickets with his off-spin and scoring 354 runs in his maiden Ranji Trophy season.

But, he was discarded before long, raising a few eyebrows. 

He, however, didn't lose hope and continued to perform consistently for SBI, Thiruvananthapuram. His wait was finally over when he was picked for Kerala's one-day squad this season. And last week, he was selected for the Ranji team, too.

It has been over three years since he last played a First Class game, against Services at Thalassery in 2015. So he is delighted that he could finally resume his Ranji career.

“I knew that I stood a good chance to get into the Ranji squad this year, but wasn't quite expecting to be in the one-day team,” Vinoop told Sportstar on Monday. “I know the competition is tough for the spinner's slot in the Ranji XI, with Jalaj Saxena establishing himself as the main off-spinner, but I feel I could be the third spinner.”

Looking back at his time in the wilderness, the 26-year-old said it wasn't easy. “I was hoping that I would be recalled at the beginning of every season, so it was disappointing,” he said.

“It feels great to be finally back and I am glad that I have got an opportunity to work with as reputed a coach as Dav Whatmore.”

When he made his Ranji debut, Sujith Somasundar was Kerala's coach. “I gained a lot from training under Sujith,” he said. “Whatmore too has been great; he makes you mentally stronger.”

He said Kerala was confident of repeating its success at the Ranji Trophy last year. The team had qualified for the knock-out stage, for the first time in history.

“We are in a tough group,” he said. “But ours is a strong side and we are all upbeat about our chances.”

Kerala opens its campaign with a home match, against Hyderabad, from November 1 at Thiruvananthapuram.