'I owed Madhya Pradesh the trophy that I missed out 23 years back'

Reactions from former Madhya Pradesh players after the team's maiden Ranji Trophy victory

Aditya Shrivastava and co. scripted history on Sunday when they beat Mumbai by six wickets to lead Madhya Pradesh to their maiden Ranji Trophy title. As soon as the winning runs were hit, ESPNcricinfo spoke to a few key drivers of the game in the state on the achievement.

Chandrakant Pandit, title-winning coach of Madhya Pradesh (as told to the BCCI website)
“It is becoming a little emotional because missing out when I was captain to win this trophy on the same ground after 23 years. Some say father could not do it but son has done it. Aditya Shrivastava has done it. I owed Madhya Pradesh the trophy that I missed out.

“I used to play for Madhya Pradesh in ’94-’96 [1994-95 to 2000-01]. Almost six years I played. The offer [to coach them] came to me in March and I didn’t hesitate. Before that I had a couple of offers and then I thought about going back to Madhya Pradesh because I had left something 23 years back. Probably God willed me back to the same place and we came back to play the final at Chinnaswamy Stadium.

“I would definitely say Aditya Shrivastava has been an outstanding captain with his plans and strategy. Whatever we discussed, I think he has never hesitated to implement on the ground. The captain makes the team win 50% according to me and that is what I wanted him to do. He has done a fantastic job and though he wasn’t getting runs I always had confidence in him. At the same time, Rajat Patidar, Shubham Sharma, Kumar Kartikeya, there are many many guys – young guy Akshat Raghuwanshi – has also come out well for MP.”

Jalaj Saxena, former Madhya Pradesh allrounder
“It’s been seven years since I moved from playing first-class cricket for Madhya Pradesh but my heart has been pounding away watching the final. The only thought that kept playing in my mind at the start of the day were the memories of 1998-99, where we took a lead and had the final under control before one bad session cost us the game. I’m so happy to see how calmly they approached it.

“When I started for MP 17 years ago, it was a dream to play in a Ranji final. We had talent but as a group, winning remained just a dream. To see these guys lift the trophy is a gift to the entire cricketing fraternity in MP. It has the potential to open several avenues.

“Coaches and talent scouts will keenly look out for talent from MP even more now. We’ve already seen so many names coming through – Rajat Patidar, Venkatesh Iyer, Avesh Khan, Kumar Kartikeya. Many more could emerge. These guys have all been trendsetters for the younger players. So many youngsters in MP are now encouraged by seeing these guys perform on the big stage, and a platform like the IPL only magnifies your performances and provides a lift to the region.

“We always knew MP had a strong team, but it was always a question of being able to hold our nerves on the big stage. After this win, that perception is bound to change. This win has the power to transform the direction of MP cricket for the better.

Sanjay Jagdale, former MP cricketer and veteran administrator
“Two years ago, I heard from Kiran More [former India wicketkeeper] that Chandrakant Pandit was looking for a team. I immediately conveyed to Sanjeev Rao (MPCA secretary and former MP player) that we should immediately get him on board. When his name was doing the rounds, there was a lot of opposition in MP, particularly Indore. The opposition, I felt, was personal. But they somehow moved past that and brought him on board.

“Chandu’s only condition was he needed a free hand when it came to cricketing matters, and if that was met, he was ready to come on. He knows which player should be put under pressure, which player needs to be spoken to with love. After his arrival, we’ve seen a great transformation in the team’s body language and attitude, because he has built that kind of confidence in them. There is proper role clarity.

“The biggest change is how teams are selected. Earlier in MP, selection used to be a big headache. Things happened differently. Since he is the coach, he sits in selection meetings, and he comes prepared. He clearly states what he wants. No deserving player has missed out in his time so far.

“Akshat Raghuwanshi, for example, wasn’t even with the Under-19 team last year. He single-handedly brought him on board; look at the way he has responded: three fifties and a century, a match-turning knock in the semi-finals. When he picks a young player, he backs him, gives him the security.

“What also makes him stand out is he takes responsibility for failure. If something is unsuccessful, he takes the responsibility and when some players do well, he gives them the credit. Few people can do this. If his strategies or decisions fail, he doesn’t play the blame game. He gives credit to the guys who do well. Players now know if Chandu has picked you, you will have his full backing.”

Devendra Bundela, former MP captain and third-highest run-scorer in Ranji history
“I followed every moment of the game. It’s a brilliant feeling to see MP dominate and win the Ranji Trophy. I can say for sure the best squad was picked. Their methodical approach was outstanding. The effort of many years has finally borne fruit.

“I was part of that 1998-99 final and can tell you how much of a heartbreak it was. That is still fresh in my mind, but seeing these guys take a step further makes me feel very proud. This group has the potential to dominate for the next three-four years. It’s largely a young team. Someone asked me if we’ve hit a purple patch. I said, ‘no, this is a purple batch.'”

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