Mumbai’s slow left-arm orthodox tweaker, Ankeet Chavan, spun a bit of history at the Wankhede Stadium on December 11, 2012 when he took nine for 23 to bowl Punjab out for 59 in their second innings. It was the third-best bowling figures in Ranji Trophy, after Premangsu Chatterjee’s 10 for 20 and Pradeep Sunderam’s 10 for 78. While the 27-year-old’s efforts capped a topsy-turvy day and almost gave Mumbai an improbable win after Punjab took the vital first innings lead, Chavan told CricketCountry that he had mixed feelings following the match.
Excerpts from an interview with Jaideep Vaidya:
CricketCountry (CC): Mumbai started the last day in a commanding position at 364 for three and looked good to overhaul Punjab’s first innings total of 580. But you ended up 95 runs short of the vital first-innings lead. Were you disappointed with the result, or satisfied that your own performance gave your team a shot at an unbelievable win?
Ankeet Chavan (AC): We were obviously disappointed with the result. We went into the last day with an aim of getting at least three points, but ended up with just one. So, it was disappointing.
CC: What was the team’s plan, heading out into the last day’s play?
AC: Our plan was to play the day out; it was a good batting wicket. Rohit (Sharma) and Hiken (Shah) were hitting really well, so we definitely expected to get a first-innings lead. Rohit was playing well and got a double century but, unfortunately, he was out to a direct hit from the boundary and that triggered a collapse.
CC: What did Ajit Agarkar tell the team going out to bowl into the second innings, after losing out that first-innings lead? Did you plan to bowl them out and go for a win?
AC: It wasn’t expected. It was a placid batting wicket with not much help for the bowlers. Nobody expected so much out of it. Our plan was to just not give away easy runs. Ajit told me to stick to bowling in the right areas. But cricket is such a game that you can’t predict the outcome till the final ball is bowled. I got wickets in my first and second overs of the second innings and all of a sudden, they were 17 for four and five, and that was when we thought something can happen.
CC: After bowling Punjab out for 59, Mumbai then required 155 runs in 11-odd overs for an amazing win – one that Mumbai is famous for scripting. Did you go for the win?
AC: Yes, we definitely went for it. That’s why we changed our batting line-up. Rohit and (Abhishek) Nayar opened the innings and gave us a good start. Because there were no fielding restrictions, Punjab placed nine fielders on the rope. So it wasn’t very easy to score at a quick rate. Rohit still batted well, but after he and (Aditya) Tare got out, we knew that a win wasn’t possible. That’s when we conceded (at 61 for two off six overs).
CC: You might be disappointed that your team couldn’t eke out a win or a first-innings lead, but are you happy with your own performance?
AC: (I’m) kind of happy with my performance. Although I’m a little disappointed I couldn’t contribute with my batting (out for a duck in the first innings).
CC: You seem to have a liking for Punjab. Just last year, you were part of a match-winning 125-run partnership with Ramesh Powar, scoring 73. This time, you’ve shone with the bowl.
AC: (laughs) I don’t know what happens with them. In last year’s match, I had even picked up four wickets in the second innings. Unfortunately, this time, we couldn’t win the match.
CC: Your next game is against Saurashtra. Is it a must-win game for Mumbai?
AC: Yes, we play Saurashtra at Rajkot. It’s another placid batting track. I hope to take all the positives out of this match and go there. We know we have to win all three games to progress.
CC: How does it feel to boast of the third-best bowling figures in the history of the Ranji Trophy?
AC: (It) feels good. I’ve just started my career so it feels good to churn out such a performance. I know that I have to keep backing myself to perform consistently in the future.
CC: Finally, what are your goals for the near future?
AC: My ultimate aim is obviously to play for the blue cap. I know that I need to keep performing consistently for that to happen.
CC: Thanks a ton for talking to us, Ankeet! All the best for the future!
(Jaideep Vaidya is a multiple sports buff and Editorial Consultant at Cricket Country. He has a B.E. in Electronics Engineering, but that isn’t fooling anybody. He started writing on sports during his engineering course and fell in love with it. The best day of his life came on April 24, 1998, when he witnessed birthday boy Sachin Tendulkar pummel a Shane Warne-speared Aussie attack from the stands during the Sharjah Cup Final. A diehard Manchester United fan, you can follow him on Twitter @jaideepvaidya. He also writes a sports blog - The Mullygrubber )