In eight innings before being dropped from the team, Sanjay Ramaswamy had tallied a meagre 101 runs. On Wednesday, the Vidarbha opening batsman scored an unbeaten 112 to not only justify the faith shown in him but also put the defending champion in the driver’s seat in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal.
Sanjay was one of the stand-out performers in Vidarbha’s maiden Ranji triumph last season but seemed to have been found out this season.
“I realised I was tentative outside off-stump and was being dismissed behind the stumps quite a lot,” Sanjay said after the second day’s play. “So I refrained from playing the balls pitched outside the line early on today and I am glad it came off.”
Considering his string of poor runs at the start, it didn’t come as a surprise when he was replaced with youngster Atharwa Taide for the last three games.
In fact, it was a brave call for Vidarbha selectors and the team management to draft Sanjay in the side for a knockout game, albeit against a minnow side.
“There are a few players who need a break to return better,” said Vidarbha coach Chandrakant Pandit, explaining the rationale behind preferring Sanjay over Taide.
“We all know he is a solid player and I must thank the selectors for allowing us to have him in the squad. I told him at the end of the match in Rajkot (versus Saurashtra) itself that he would be playing this game so that he had sufficient time to prepare mentally.”
Sanjay was fortunate early on in his innings when umpire Sudhir Asnani reversed an lbw decision after realising the batsman had edged the ball before it rapped on to the stumps.
And with stalwart Wasim Jaffer taking the pressure off him at the start, Sanjay found it easier to dominate an inexperienced bowling attack.
“The manner in which Wasim bhai creates boundary opportunities even off good balls just takes off the pressure from the batsman at the other end,” he said.