Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal confident of defending Ranji Trophy title

As the next domestic season gets underway, Vidarbha’s cricketing crop is making sure they leave no stone unturned to prove they aren’t a one-time wonder.

Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal feels it is only good for the players to feel the pressure of being a defending champion.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

Vidarbha scripted a piece of history in the last season when it went on to win the Ranji Trophy for the first time, beating powerhouse Delhi in the final.

As the next domestic season gets underway, Vidarbha’s cricketing crop is making sure they leave no stone unturned to prove they aren’t a one-time wonder.

Skipper Faiz Fazal, who is leading India Blue in the Duleep Trophy, said the players are sweating it out in the pre-season camp.

READ: Duleep Trophy: India Red gears up take on Blue

“I was away in the United Kingdom playing cricket but I was in touch with the players on the Whatsapp group. We have the Vijay Hazare Trophy coming up and that would act as a good preparation for the domestic season, although the formats are different. We hope to start off on a high,” Fazal exuded confidence.

With incessant rains lashing Nagpur, most of the training sessions were confined indoors. “That gave us a lot of time to analyse, strategise and focus a lot on fitness too. We did have outdoor sessions whenever the weather permitted. The unit is looking in great shape and we just cannot wait for the Ranji to start,” he added.

From underdogs to defending champion

Vidarbha has come a long way in the Ranji Trophy. From being the underdogs to defending champion, a lot has changed and Fazal feels it is only good for the players to feel the pressure of being a defending champion.

“It is a healthy pressure, I would say. Of course, defending champion tag will add more pressure but that is what every team plays for. A player must experience that once in his lifetime. Our team is ready to face that and we know teams will come hard at us this time around,” Fazal added.

Fazal and his opening partner Sanjay Ramaswamy scripted many match winning opening partnerships in the last season said opening with his captain has been memorable.

READ: Delhi's Ranji team ropes in Klusener as consultant

“Faiz always has a lot of plans. Batting with him is easy and he keeps you in ease. We both know a strong foundation is integral for the team and plan accordingly. We have good communication between us and that serves the foundation on a platter for our team,” Sanjay explained.

Taking its cricket seriously, Vidarbha played an invitational tournament as a part of its pre-season.

“We played against KSCA (Karnataka State Cricket Association) and learnt a lot from that stint. Although we didn’t qualify for the final, it gave us a realistic picture on where we stand and areas of improvement,” Sanjay said.

Risk-free cricket

Vidarbha wicketkeeper Akshay Wadkar said the focus this year will be on risk-free cricket.

“We played fearless cricket and we will continue that but an added feature will be to take minimal risks as that is one of the best ways to score runs. Sometimes we get carried away and throw our wicket which can put the team under great pressure. The focus is to avoid that,” he said.

Wadkar said plans are in place for his role in the team. “My job is to play till the end as I come in the lower middle order and bat with the tail. My focus would be to see the team through to the targets that we set internally,” he added.