Vidarbha skipper Fazal keen for an encore

Faiz Fazal, who is leading India Blue in Duleep Trophy, says his state’s Ranji triumph last season wasn’t a fairytale.

For the last couple of years, Fazal has been using the off-season to go to England to play club competitions which he believes helped him evolve as a cricketer.   -  FILE PIC/VIVEK BENDRE

 

As India Red gets ready to face India Blue in the second game of the Duleep Trophy here from Thursday, for the first time, up to six players from Vidarbha will be available for selection in the game.

The reigning Ranji and Irani Trophy champions had a fairytale run in the last domestic season and its players have been deservedly rewarded with spots in the feeder teams for the national side.

India Blue skipper Faiz Fazal, who led Vidarbha to its maiden Ranji title was beaming with pride.

Speaking ahead of the match, Fazal said, “Things are looking positive for us and the vibes are very good in the association. We got Umesh (Yadav) playing in England, (Rajneesh) Gurbani played for A team, Sanjay (Ramaswamy) for Board President’s XI. We are really proud and looking forward to repeating the performance this season too.”

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The Vidarbha skipper added the challenge will be to repeat the feat this year considering the pressure and expectations. “We played good cricket last year, won both Ranji and Irani. They call it a fairytale but we had worked hard for it. We were not lucky every time.

“We now have the pressure but we just have to repeat the same thing again and not get carried away with the high from last year.”

Fazal himself had a great run last year, finishing as the second leading run-scorer (912 runs) in Ranji Trophy. The opening batsman, who played a solitary one-day for India in Zimbabwe, however, missed out on a place in the A squad and is determined to move up the ranks.

“You do get disappointed when you are not picked. But nothing is in my hands. I just have to be really positive and repeat the same things again.”

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For the last couple of years, Fazal has been using the off-season to go to England to play club competitions which he believes helped him evolve as a cricketer as he prepares for yet another domestic season.

“I love playing cricket. I never thought I will play for India. The aim was there always. It was the high point of my career. But I enjoy cricket and that's why I go to England. It is not First-Class cricket but it is a challenge and you learn every day.”