Friday, February 7, 2014

Cricket - Well Done Karnataka and Maharashtra

I watched some part of the Ranji Trophy final this year. Though it was played at Hyderabad and the HCA graciously invited us to witness the match I was otherwise preoccupied and could not go to the Uppal ground. However I was pleased to see that Karnataka made it to the final and won it. For one thing, the way KSCA has put in systems and processes, got the right people to do the right job and certainly got the results of all the good work that Kumble, Srinath and company have put in.

It is a team that has come out of a process. The sheer abundance of talent that is available in Karnataka is honed well by good processes of identification of talent, honing it, nurturing it and breaking it in at the right time. The coaches and selectors have been trusted and given a tenure that gives them scope, infrastructure has been built, talent identified to be backed and it all clicked. few had doubts as to who the favorites were once the last four were identified and Karnataka did not disappoint.

Though the side is batting heavy (Karnataka is probably the strongest batting side in the domestic circuit) with K.L. Rahul, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, Ganesh Satish, C.M. Gautam, and Amit Verma batting at 8 with Mayank Agarwal, Samarth and such talent sitting out, Karnataka is in good space. Surprisingly one finds only Rahul and Manish Pandey in the top 20 batsmen in terms of averages indicating an all round batting effort. The bowling looked rather lopsided with Mithun leading the way bagging 40 plus and H.S. Sharath and Vinay Kumar supporting him well with 30 odd and new boy Shreyas Gopal breaking into first class cricket in style with 25. As a unit however it looks very solid, compact. They field well, have established players in key positions, have a mixture of experience and youth and have plenty of reserve strength. The way the experienced players were brought in for the big stages of the tournament was interesting and they delivered - Amit Verma and Ganehs Satish both did well. Much credit must go to the Chief Selector Abhiram and the coaches Arun Kumar and Mansur and certainly for the KSCA management for backing them all to do the job.

Maharashtra's tale is on of a side in progress. From the lowly C group the side emerged to beat Mumbai and then challenge Karnataka in the final. If the four chances had been taken when Karnataka bated first it might have been a totally different tale for all we know. Coached by veteran cricketer Surendra Bhave they came through by dint of a well balanced team effort, riding on magnificent performances with the bat by Khadiwala, Kedar Jadhav (both got over 1000 runs), Vijay Zol and the like. Bawne impressed, Atitkar, Motwani and Khurana played their hand and the bowlers did well with Samad Fallah leading the attack and Anupam Sanklecha, Srikant Mundhe, Darekar supporting them. It was a wonderful team effort and they did everything right almost, displayed great heart. All they lacked was the process and thought that Karnataka brought into their cricket for many years. If there was anything they also seemed slightly overwhelmed by the occasion.

Good case studies. Both teams should do well with the wealth of talent they have. I know Karnataka will nurture the talent it has with the systems it has in place. I only hope Maharashtra follows whatever it did right and continue with the good job and nurture their young team and its talent in years to come.

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