Vijay Manjrekar XI tops

Players of Vijay Manjrekar XI receive the Sportstar Trophy from former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar.-SHASHI ASHIWAL

Though Vijay Manjrekar XI and Dattu Phadkar XI were equal on points at the end of the four-team league, the former was declared champion on the basis of its eight-wicket victory over the latter in the final league match. Nandakumar Marar reports.

Vijay Manjrekar XI won the Sportstar Trophy in Mumbai recently. On the final day of the tournament, which was celebrating its 25th anniversary, Vijay Manjrekar XI scored an eight-wicket victory over Dattu Phadkar XI. Off-break bowler Pratik Gawli was named the Man of the Match for his eight-wicket haul in the match that proved instrumental in Vijay Manjrekar XI's win. He was ably supported by leg-spinner Pankaj Gadade (seven wickets in the match) and batsmen Jaideep Pardeshi (51) and Siddharth Muley (60 not out).

The outcome of the match resulted in a tie for the top spot with both teams scoring 10 points from three matches each in the four-team league. Manjrekar XI was declared champion on the basis of Rule 22 of the MCA Model Rules & Playing Conditions 2010, which stipulates that in case of teams being equal on points and victories, the winner of the match between the two is the champion.

Later, addressing an audience comprising the under-19 cricketers, team coaches and the junior selectors during the awards function at the CCI's C. K. Nayudu Hall, Lalchand Rajput, the MCA joint secretary, said as long as Mumbai's bench strength is good, its dominance in domestic cricket would continue.

Mumbai cricket's biggest strength is the competitive edge displayed by its players in crunch situations. It is a skill honed through performances in the age-group tournaments organised by the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA).

Talented youngsters, who are hand-picked for tournaments such as the Sportstar Trophy, develop combative instincts in match situations, which prepare them mentally for bigger competitions at the local and National levels.

“There was a lot of talk about Mumbai's days being over. But we won the Ranji Trophy for two years in a row and have been doing well in the U-14 and U-22 category at the National level. Mumbai cricketers stand out even when they are playing for other state teams, with people trying to follow their approach,” said Rajput. “Tournaments like the Sportstar Trophy provide ample opportunities to youngsters,” he added.

Dilip Vengsarkar, who gave away the prizes, spoke of the first cricket match he had watched as an 11-year-old. “Mumbai were playing Bengal in the Ranji final. I went for just one day, but I remember each and every ball. Ajit Wadekar came out to bat towards the close of play, he did not believe in the concept of night-watchman. He is one of my heroes,” he related.

“Eknath Solkar's father had passed away, so he went for the funeral and then came back to the ground to help Mumbai score the 80-odd runs needed for victory,” recalled the former India captain and MCA vice president.

He added: “Sachin Tendulkar is a great example for all of you to emulate. Such dedication, discipline and humility after achieving so much in the game, you cannot get a better role model.”

Tendulkar, incidentally, was the first recipient of the Sportstar ‘Player of Tournament' award in 1987, two seasons before his Test debut against Pakistan.

K. Balaji, the Managing Director of The Hindu Group, said: “There is no commercial interest in cricket sponsorship from our side. The intention behind the Sportstar Trophy is purely the cause of sport. Our association with cricket gets highlighted though the group also supports other sports like chess, hockey and horse racing.”

AWARD WINNERS

Player of Tournament: Neelkanth Parab (226 runs in two matches; six victims behind the stumps). Best all-rounder: Akarshit Gomel (204 runs and three wickets in two matches). Best batsman: Shashank Singh (247 runs in two matches; highest score 154). Best bowler: Mairaj Khan (17 wickets in three matches). Best bowler (pace): Pratik Dabolkar. Best bowler (spin): Mairaj Khan. Best wicketkeeper & best fielder: Sumit Ghadigaonkar (seven catches and four stumpings in two matches).

Man of the match award winners: Aditya Dhumal, Mairaj Khan, Shashank Singh, Badre Alam, Pratik Dabolkar, Pratik Gawli.

Sportstar Trophy winners list – 1987: Dattu Phadkar XI. 1988: Vijay Merchant XI. 1989: Khandu Rangnekar XI. 1990: Rangnekar XI. 1991: Vijay Manjrekar XI. 1992: Phadkar XI. 1993: Manjrekar XI. 1994: Merchant XI. 1995: Phadkar XI. 1996: Phadkar XI. 1997: Merchant XI. 1998: Phadkar XI. 1999: Manjrekar XI. 2000: Manjrekar XI. 2001: Manjrekar XI. 2002 (May): Manjrekar XI. 2002 (October): Manjrekar XI. 2003: Manjrekar XI. 2004: Manjrekar XI. 2005: Merchant XI. 2006: Merchant XI. 2007: Merchant XI. 2008: Manjrekar XI. 2009: Manjrekar XI. 2010: Manjrekar XI.