A quintessential Mumbai cricketer, Ramesh Powar obtained a no objection certificate from the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) and is all set to play for Rajasthan. He tells Taus Rizvi why and how he decided to make the difficult choice.
Excerpts from an interview:
Taus Rizvi (TR): When and why did you decide to leave Mumbai?
Ramesh Powar (RP): I think it was during last season after the fifth game, which was also my last match (Ranji Trophy against Bengal). I thought I wasn’t enjoying it and wanted a fresh challenge. The injury (back) break gave me a lot of time to think and I decided to take up a new challenge.
TR: Why did you choose Rajasthan?
RP: They have been playing well recently and have been champions two times in last four years, that’s why I took up the challenge. It is a good team with youngsters. They now have Pradeep Sunderam as coach and Hrishikesh Kanitkar is the captain. I know Hrishi for more than a decade. During a local match, Hrishi and I had a chat where I told him that I wasn’t enjoying playing. He made the offer; I thought about it and signed a contract with them. It was not an easy decision to make.
TR: Weren’t you enjoying playing for Mumbai?
RP: I felt uncomfortable last season but I thought it must be a niggle. However, after the fifth game, I couldn’t get over it. I took a break and it showed there was an injury. I went under rehab, which gave me time to think. I wasn’t enjoying bowling because of fitness issues and, a lot of other things were going on. I needed a challenge to go and bowl. I hardly bowled last season and that left me a disappointed. New bowlers were coming up and they were doing well and I had to accept it and move on.
TR: Was it a difficult decision to move on…
RP: Basically, I got the message from things happening around me. When you are in form, you get your chances at the right time. I am a spinner, so I would be the first option when in form. But when you become a fifth option, it is difficult and you have to accept that you have to move on. Also, you can read between the lines. When the captain and coaches discuss, you get the idea.
TR: What are your fond memories of playing for Mumbai?
RP: I think it was when I met Sachin [Tendulkar] for the first time in 1999-2000. The way he spoke to me and gave me confidence, I really felt great. Also, the five years when Praveen Amre was the coach. He helped Mumbai a lot and we won quite a few titles under him. He gave confidence to youngsters like Ajinkya [Rahane], Rohit [Sharma] and others. He was always positive. My performance under him was much better for Mumbai.
TR: Which is your best season with Mumbai?
RP: The two seasons where I took more than 100 wickets that is ’04-’05, ’05-’06. Also, my best has come when Praveen Amre was the coach.
TR: Your most memorable spell?
RP: There are many, but I would like to say the 2003 Irani Cup match against the Rest of India. It was a packed Indian side at that time and Sachin was leading us. I got Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly once, Yuvraj Singh twice in that game. That match was huge since I was just playing Ranji Trophy then and got four wickets and in all six wickets against them. I was selected for India after that.
TR: You formed a famous spin troika with Nilesh Kulkarni and Sairaj Bahutule…
RP: It was a fantastic experience. We enjoyed playing in each other’s company. I have learnt a lot from them, Sairaj, Nilesh, Paras [Mhambrey], Abbey [Kuruvilla]. You had to work hard to be in the Mumbai team. It was fun.
TR: Mumbai are now struggling as far as spinners are concerned?
RP: It happens sometimes. I am hoping we will overcome it soon. I don’t see quality spinners these days. I am hoping someone will come up now. However, it is because of young bowlers concentrating more on T20 and bowling flat to get maiden overs.
TR: Where do you see your career heading from here?
RP: Basically I have to accept, go there, play and deliver whatever I have to. I will have to work double hard there.
Being a professional, I will have to deliver and also be a guiding force for the youngsters in Rajasthan, much like how I have done for the Mumbai youngsters.
TR: At 35, do you still harbour hopes of playing for India?
RP: You never know. Look at Australia’s Chris Rogers. He is 35 and got his chance when it mattered. I hope, I will get mine too with one good season. If I do well, I might. I don’t want to give up on this.
TR: Who is the best Mumbai captain you have played with?
RP: It has to be Paras Mhambrey: calm and composed. I enjoyed his captaincy a lot.
TR: How has your relationship been with the Mumbai Cricket Association. Didn’t they ask you to wait when you went to ask for an NOC?
RP: I have had a good rapport with the MCA. I have never faced any problem. They respected me and I respected them for the last 13 years. I had a great experience with MCA.
TR: It is said you lost 25 kgs. You look a lot slimmer and fitter…
RP: I have not been playing cricket for some time. I had an injury and I had to get fit. I wasn’t delivering nor was I able to turn the ball. I was dying to get back on the field. So, I decided to get fitter. I appointed a trainer, physio and followed a proper diet. I had to sacrifice on many food items. I used to run 10 minutes non-stop earlier, and now I can run one hour non-stop.
(Taus Rizvi is a Principal Correspondent with DNA. A club-level cricketer, he believes cricket helps in knowing a person’s character. Taus can be followed on @rizvitaus on Twitter. The above news has been republished with permission from DNA, where it first appeared)