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Sairaj Bahutule: Would have played longer for India had they persisted with me

Sairaj Bahutule:

AFP

Mumbai: Jan 10, 2013

Former India leg-spinner Sairaj Bahutule, who recently retired from the first-class cricket, today said he could have played more matches had the team management persisted with him.

“The best part of cricket nowadays is they persist with players. MS Dhoni is a person who persists with players for some time, because not everybody is comfortable at that level,” he said.

“In international cricket there is a difference. To cope with international cricket, you need some time. Some of them do it in a couple of matches straight away, in debut or some take more time. This era is fantastic because they are persistent. The more persistent you are the better it is,” he told reporters here.

Asked if his career would have been different had he got a captain who persisted with him during his stint, he said, “Probably. I believed that I could do well at that level. But opportunities didn’t come my way. But I don’t have any regrets. Eventually that particular time, what the mindset is of the captain or the coaches, overall combinations also matter. I am thankful that I could play so many years.”

Bahutule, who never got much opportunities with the presence of leg-spinner Anil Kumble in the side, said, “(I was) probably overshadowed. Anil was brilliant. He was superb.

I got an opportunity to play for the country. There are some players who have done so well in First-Class cricket but they have never played for India. At least I got an opportunity to play for the country.

“That was an era of good spinners. I was coming to Ranji and performing and pushing myself to play for the country.

India A was something I was always tagged with. I have played more for India A than for India. I don’t have any regrets about that,” he said.

He rated Ravi Shastri as his best captain and said the former India all-rounder brought out the best in people.

“Playing for Mumbai, previously, it was almost like you were playing for the country. Ravi Shastri is captaining you, Sanjay Manjrekar is there. It was almost like half the Indian team. For me the most influential captain was Ravi Shastri,” he said.

“He was brilliant. He used to get the best out of you. He used to believe that you could do certain things at that particular situation. I used to surprise myself but he believed in it. He had a knack of getting things out of people,” he said.

Bahutule, who got 630 wickets and scored 6,176 in his 188 First-Class matches, said he decided to quit after consulting his family.

The 40-year-old had suffered a set back even before he started his cricket career, when he was injured in an accident and his femur bone was broken.

“To have a femur broken and then play for 21 years… now I can talk about it because I have retired, you have to be mentally strong to get about it. You need to be determined to achieve something in life.

“Like Yuvraj’s case. When you are trying to come out of such a thing, you need a lot of mental strength also. My right leg was always in pain. My rod was removed after a year, because it became too painful. I am always strengthening it,” he said.

Bahutule featured in six of Mumbai’s Ranji finals, all of which his side won, and had led the team to victory in 2003-04.

He moved to Maharashtra, Andhra, Assam before coming to Mumbai for another season and left the side for Vidarbha the next year.

Asked about future course of action, he said that he would coach Vidarbha in one-dayers and Twenty20 competitions.

He lamented that he could have been given the opportunity to play in Indian Premier League in the first two seasons and said: “My only regret is not playing IPL. I feel I had it in me to succeed in the first two seasons.”

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