This deserves a longer post and I will get back to it but I cannot not celebrate this today - it was fascinating cricket - some of the most absorbing I have seen in years. And to see it played in all innocence with fresh faces full of intent (not the 'we have a good game and we have bad games' types but 'we will make this count - today' types). Luckily I watched a lot of the MP and Bengal game and have been hooked since then.
What struck me first up was the balance in the bowling side - without any big names but for Kumar Kartikeya who played the IPL - seamers Anubhav (I think) and the indefatigable Yadav, offie Saransh, and leftie Sahani and how with limited resources they kept pegging away and kept knocking over the young Mumbai side. I loved the way their skipper Aditya Srivastava remains calm and unflappable in any situation - and there's a big difference between his lack of emotion and Prithvi Shaw's - where Aditya's is full of intent and holding the energy, Prithvi's bordered on the apathetic. No words, no plans, no holding of the energy. Where it was clear that every one in the MP side looked at Aditya for leadership, I cannot say the same thing with the Mumbai side where everyone seemed to have a say and an opinion. Like Coach Pandit said at the end - a lot of credit to Aditya because a good captain means 50% of the advantage is with you. Aditya had his plans and they worked (despite the commentator getting upset and wanting him to change strategies).
At a stage when Mumbai looked like it might run away to a big score the MP bowlers stuck to their task and bundled them out for 374, maybe 150 runs less than what they should have got. And then came the character - Yash Dubey and Mantri began so solidly - Yash being so compact and batting with such a straight bat that it was a pleasure to see. When Mantri who got a huge 150 in the semis got out in came the experienced Shubham Sharma and what a partnership these two built shutting Mumbai out pretty much right then. After Shubham got out came the new star Rajat Patidar. Yash Dubey shut his ears off and kept going and to me much of the credit for shutting out Mumbai bowlers should go to him. Rajat got a hundred and Saransh Jain got a 50 and the last day showed up with Mumbai making a last ditch effort and falling short. Once again, the MP batsmen showed remarkable restraint and knocked off the 108 runs to win. What a sight it was.
The way they carried their emotional coach on their shoulders, gathered around for pictures, went and acknowledged the crowd, bowed to the ground and the pavilion, spoke at the post match ceremony where Aditya came wearing his MPCA blazer - everything showed the culture around which the team has been built. I am so thrilled that I watched this match.
This is cricket at its best and thank you MP and Chandrakanth Pandit for providing such pleasure and reaffirming how the basics make all the difference.