Chandrakant Pandit ready for 'homecoming' in Madhya Pradesh

Chandrakant Pandit had represented Madhya Pradesh for seven years in his cricketing career. Now, he takes charge as the head coach of the side.

Chandrakant Pandit was the coach when Vidarbha won back-to-back Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup titles.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

Chandrakant Pandit, the coach with the most promising CV on the domestic cricket circuit, has ended his three-year association with Vidarbha and accepted the role as the head coach of Madhya Pradesh starting the coming season.

The new assignment is a sort of homecoming for Pandit. Despite breaking into the Indian team during his stint with his home team Mumbai in the 1980s, the former wicketkeepeer-batsman represented MP for the last seven seasons of his career before hanging up his boots in 2000-01.

“Yes, there’s a bit of an emotional aspect to it but more than it, the fact that I have a fair idea about the culture of MP cricket will certainly be an advantage,” Pandit told Sportstar from his native place Chiplun, a coastal town in Kokan.

“Moreover, many of those who I played with, have been involved either as administrators or coaches in the set-up so establishing a rapport with them won’t be an issue at all. I am certainly looking forward to it.”

READ: Who replaces Pandit at Vidarbha? VCA yet to take a call

Pandit has a penchant for converting average teams into winning sides, having guided Mumbai and Vidarbha to Ranji Trophy titles during his nearly two-decade coaching sojourn. He was also involved in Rajasthan's triumph in 2011-12 in the role of director of cricket. In his dual role as the head coach of the senior men’s team and the director of cricket, MP fits the bill into his streak. Despite being a settled outfit, Madhya Pradesh has been an under-performing unit on the domestic circuit.

While it made it to the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal in 2017-18, its last appearance in knockouts of the Vijay Hazare Trophy came in 2013-14. The last time it qualified for the Super League in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was in 2014-15.

Naturally, while the administrators will be looking forward to Pandit waving his magic wand and get MP among the Ranji contenders, the veteran coach stresses he is used to not passing the pressure of “producing results” on to the players.

READ: Chandrakant Pandit keen to replicate Vidarbha success with Madhya Pradesh

“If you keep only thinking about results, the process falls apart and here the challenge is to create a set-up where the players keep growing, thus helping the team in the long-run,” Pandit said. “I like to create a system wherein some of the players need to be dragged out of their comfort zones because at times in domestic cricket, complacency creeps in to a lot of extent. You have to work on it during off-season.”

Pandit’s past stints have seen some of the established stars making way for newcomers who emerge as vital cogs in the team. “These are the calculated risks I take but before making up my mind, I try and observe a player’s temperament. To get the real sense of it, you need to know the individual’s personality, so I don’t just interact with players but also reach out to their families and friends to try and understand personalities.”

The ongoing lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak has meant instead of travelling to Indore and interacting with his new set of wards, Pandit has been confined to his farmhouse in his native town. “Hopefully things will improve soon and I can meet them in person and set the ball rolling soon,” he concluded.

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