Faiz Fazal. Photo Courtesy: BCCI Twitter Handle
Faiz Fazal. Photo Courtesy: BCCI Twitter Handle

Vidarbha rewrote history in the just-concluded Ranji Trophy 2017-18. They won their maiden Ranji title, beating Delhi by 9 wickets inside four days. Vidarbha topped the group stages before beating Kerala, Karnataka and Delhi to lift the trophy. Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal termed the title victory as the “biggest achievement of his career”, putting it ahead of his India debut. Fazal had made his debut in India’s tour of Zimbabwe in 2016.

“Winning the Ranji Trophy would be the biggest achievement of my career. I know playing for India was a big high for me because as an individual, you get to achieve that. I have always been a team-man. Winning the trophy for the team has been a big thing. I have been leading Vidarbha since my age-group cricket days. And to lead a Ranji team is not an easy thing. The win is no less than a fairytale. This feeling cant be described. As a cricketer, we have always dreamed of winning Ranji Trophy. It is the biggest thing in our career. It happened today, and I am happy. For now, we are on seventh heaven. But again, we have to be down to earth and start our work tomorrow,” stated an elated Fazal.

Turning point?

“From day one, I thought we can win it. I was in England before the season, and when I came to Nagpur and met Chandu Sir, the first thing I wanted to know was how to win the trophy. Then the process started. The first game against Punjab was the turning point. I wanted the whole team to participate in the Irani Cup. I let the side be free. This win has not been easy. Behind this, Chandu-Sir (coach Chandrakant Pandit) comes in, [Wasim] Jaffer bhai, Karn [Sharma], Ganesh [Satish] played huge role. Otherwise it would have not been possible,” added Fazal.

Pandit, part of many Ranji titles, credited his players thoroughly. “We have been following our routine and that’s the best part, we have done. All credit goes to the players as they have put in the hard work. I am very happy with the way they have respected me, and the players have never ignored the system we have followed. That is one of the major things. The team is together, they have started enjoying the sessions. We stayed together all the time and there were certain kinds of activities in the team.”

Pandit also cleared it out that he will give his troops full freedom after a hard-earned title win: “They deserve to celebrate. They were waiting for this particular day. Each and every player, the captain must be excited to celebrate and they should. There is no restriction. The VCA chief has also told me that I should not restrict them from celebrating. They can do whatever they want.

“They have worked hard and Prashant (VCA vice-president Vaidya) has been a big support to us. I am thankful to both of them. The groundsmen at the VCA also played a great role because without them we cannot perform. The way they have been preparing the pitches, they have given us nets every time we asked. They also deserve to celebrate.”

Rajneesh Gurbani — who claimed a hat-trick in the final — ended the season as the second highest wicket-taker (39). Fazal accounted for 912 runs, his opening partner Sanjay Ramaswamy amassed 775 runs. They, in turn, claimed second and third spots respectively on the same list. Senior pro Jaffer had a good season with the willow as well, scoring 595 runs at 54.09.