We treated it like a mission: Aditya Tare

The 28-year-old, who guided Mumbai to victory in the Ranji Trophy this season, credits the team’s success to its positive and aggressive approach.

Aditya Tare with the Ranji Trophy.   -  Prashant Nakwe

Aditya Tare is over the moon. The 28-year-old, who guided Mumbai to victory in the Ranji Trophy this season, credits the team’s success to its positive and aggressive approach. In a freewheeling chat, the wicketkeeper-batsman talks about the hardships of the previous season, clawing back, Shreyas Iyer, Shardul Thakur, Abhishek Nayar, Chandrakant Pandit and lots more. Excerpts...

You are the 25th player to lead Mumbai to Ranji Trophy glory…

It’s an honour to just be on that list. Wow! Look, the level of expectations is always high when you lead a side like Mumbai. Until you win something, nobody cares. I am glad we achieved this win without a Test player. Apart from Rohit (Sharma), who played one game, I led a team made up of so many youngsters.

How difficult was it to lead this bunch, especially after the adversities you guys faced in the previous season?

To me, the last season was a stepping stone. We won it this year because of the hardships we endured last season. Those battles, both on and off the field, made us stronger. When I first spoke to this team at the start of this season, I told them we were a one-year-old team.

Who coined the phrase ‘Mission 41’?

I don’t remember. Maybe it was someone in the team management. Or, maybe, it was Abhishek Nayar. I don’t know. But, yes, we did treat it like a mission.

Tell us more about Nayar…

He is the most important guy in the dressing room. Every youngster looks up to him. He is, what I call, the ideal senior player. Every youngster wants to be around him, learn from him. He addresses the problem, whether it is about the team or an individual. He has taken up the job of mentoring the young kids. You need someone like that in your set-up. It’s great to have him. He can read situations well, and his inputs are invaluable.

The team lost first-innings points to Andhra? Can you describe the pressure you were under after that match?

We needed to correct a few things. We had to be intense. We had to have clarity in our thought process. It was an eye-opener because we had lost to J&K in the opening match of the previous season. I guess that loss to Andhra helped us turn things around.

Let’s talk about Shreyas Iyer and Shardul Thakur, the top performers of the season…

Look, to me, it’s all about winning the Ranji Trophy. If all those runs and wickets play a big part in helping the team win the Ranji Trophy, then it’s great. Talk to Shreyas, and he will tell you that lifting the Ranji Trophy was more important that scoring 1,300-odd runs. Ditto with Shardul. Last year, he got more than 50 wickets, but we didn’t win the tournament. This year, he picked up around 40 wickets, and I am sure he will tell you that holding that cup in his hands was more special than having 50 wickets in the bag. It’s not about personal milestones. The thing is that if you contribute to your team’s success, then you will automatically get the reward which, in their case, is a national call-up.

Shreyas is all about positivity and aggression. He takes challenges head on. It’s a special quality. He wants to succeed; he wants to win games. That’s what makes him stand out. All I have to ask him is ‘Shreyas, tu karega? Bowling karega? Slip mein khada rahega? (Shreyas, will you do it? Will you bowl? Will you stand in the slips?)’. And, he never ever says no. If you throw him a challenge, he will accept it with both hands. When we were fielding against Madhya Pradesh in Indore during the league stage, they were scoring runs freely. During a crossover, he said to me, ‘Don’t worry man. We will chase no matter what the target is. And we did!’ That positivity rubbed off on me, on Suryakumar Yadav, on Akhil Herwadkar, on everyone.

Shardul has worked very, very hard on his game and fitness. I am very happy the way he has shaped up. He will keep on achieving success. And, the results will follow.

Whoever plays for Mumbai and helps the team win the Ranji Trophy has to go a step ahead. But these guys will have to be patient. They are quality players. That said, breaking into the national team is not easy.

Mumbai last won the Irani Cup in 1997-98. You have a great chance to create history…

It’s a great challenge for us. We don’t need to have that record in mind. We don’t need that baggage. Yes, it’s a big opportunity for us.

At any point during the Ranji campaign, did you feel apprehensive?

Not really. I don’t think we had any kind of self-doubt. There were hard times, but there was no self-doubt. We broke down our campaign into processes. We then focused on playing positive and aggressive cricket.

Over the years, Mumbai has failed to deliver the goods in the Vijay Hazare Trophy (domestic one-dayers) and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (domestic T20)…

I know what you are trying to say, but I can assure you that we don’t take these tournaments lightly. We are quite talented when it comes to white-ball cricket as well. I guess we are quite close (to correcting that record).

What about Chandrakant Pandit, the head coach?

He has been a great influence. I extend my gratitude to him, bowling coach Omkar Salvi, and every member of the support staff.

 

Is Pandit a taskmaster?

Not really. I don’t think he was extremely strict or anything. I had never played under him before this season. He is tough sometimes, but he did listen to us. I enjoy a good rapport with him.

Vishal Dabholkar and Ankush Jaiswal were called for chucking. Was that a dark spot in your otherwise-successful campaign?

No, I don’t think so. Just like a batsman has a technical fault and he is dropped, these guys have to sort out their bowling actions. It’s not the end of the world. They can come back stronger. And I am sure they will. It’s all about mental strength.

A lot has been said and written about Jay Bista? Why was he dropped? We hear there are some discipline issues…

No, not at all. He is a great kid. He got his chances. He got eight innings and he did not score enough runs. That’s why he was dropped on form. I guess it was a great move to send him back to the U-23 team. And he has scored more than a 1,000 runs for that team. In fact, they are playing the final of the Col C. K. Nayudu Trophy. They are close to winning it. He is very much a part of our scheme of things. If he keeps working hard, he will be a great player for Mumbai. Had we not dropped him, it would have been fair to the team. It would have destroyed his confidence.

Tare joins elite club

Aditya Tare became the 25th Mumbai captain to win the Ranji Trophy. The others to have won it (in chronological order since the 1934-35 season) are Laxmidas Jai, Hormasji Vajifdar, Vijay Merchant, K. C. Ibrahim, Madhav Mantri, Ranga Sohoni, Madhav Apte, Polly Umrigar, Bapu Nadkarni, Manohar Hardikar, Ajit Wadekar, Sudhir Naik, Ashok Mankad, Sunil Gavaskar, Eknath Solkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, Sachin Tendulkar, Sanjay Manjrekar, Samir Dighe, Paras Mhambrey, Sairaj Bahutule, Amol Muzumdar, Wasim Jaffer and Ajit Agarkar.

Captain’s crew

Aditya Tare was asked to describe Mumbai’s top performers in one word each. On most occasions, he used multiple adjectives…

* Akhil Herwadkar: Hardworking

* Shreyas Iyer: Aggressive, positive

* Siddhesh Lad: Little brother

* Suryakumar Yadav: Flamboyant, eccentric

* Shardul Thakur: Bull, power horse

* Dhawal Kulkarni: Consistent

* Abhishek Nayar: Ideal senior