Sachin’s presence is inspiring: Agarkar
Mumbai Oct 31: Boosted by the presence of Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan, the Mumbai Ranji team is set to take on Railways in the opening match of the Ranji Trophy 2012-13 season. With a strong line-up, Ajit Agarkar is ready to open his innings as Mumbai’s captain on November 2, 2012.
After practice at the Wankhede Stadium, Agarkar told the media, “I am looking to play well in the first game. On paper our team looks stronger than most teams, but if you don’t play well in the middle there have been enough instances of underdogs doing well. So we have got to turn up and perform no matter how good our team is on paper. That’s my priority for the first game, to get everyone to play well.”
“You can’t get better team. Our XI basically picks itself with Sachin [Tendulkar] and Zak [Zaheer Khan] coming back and Ajju [Ajinkya Rahane] and Rohit [Sharma] available as well. We basically have a full squad.”
Speaking about the inspiration that Sachin Tendulkar brings about in the dressing room, he added, “Just his presence is inspiring. A few of the guys have never experienced Sachin in a dressing room, so it is fantastic. Just the way he is preparing for this game and the series going ahead shows that his commitment has not changed over the years. Not just the young guys but all of us can learn from him. The way he approaches the game even today is exemplary.”
“We will decide the team combination after some discussion. We have to see what the selectors are looking at, if they are looking at a couple of guys from India [Indian team] point of view and where in the line-up they would like them to play. Sandy [Sandeep Patil] is our chief selector as well, so at some stage maybe I will have a chat with him. I still have got day and a half before the game, so before that we will have a chat,” he said when asked about the playing XI and their positions in the line-up.
When asked about Mumbai’s batting woes last year, he replied, “We always want our batters to get runs and bowlers to get wickets. Luckily we bat deep. Most of us [bowlers] bat a bit. You always try and bail your team out whenever the situation requires. As a batsman you always want to get runs. No batsman goes out in the middle wanting to fail. That has always been the strength of the Mumbai team, we have always batted deep and it affords us to play five bowlers, which with a long season like this helps us in getting results.”
“We will play five bowlers,” he confirmed while speaking further on the composition of the team.
When asked if Mumbai is looking forward to winning their 40th title, Agarkar said, “We have had a strong team over the years. It just takes one bad game. We were in a strong position in the semi-final last year but we couldn’t finish it off. You have to play well. It is along hard season ahead. If you get to the final, it is 11 games one after the other. You start the season thinking that you have a chance to go all the way. We have got the players to go all the way, but you have to perform otherwise it is not going happen,”
Speaking about their opponents, Railways, the senior pacer said, “They have got [Murali] Kartik and [Sanjay] Bangar who have enough experience and there are a couple of other guys who have been around the circuit for a long a time. You have to do your job. I am more worried about how we play than what Railways do.”
Speaking about the matches after Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan will leave to join the national squad and the necessity to field and a new combination, especially if a few more players leave, he said, “We will have to wait and see when that happens; we will deal with that. Sachin and Zaheer will definitely go.”
“There are enough guys who have done well last season who are not part of the squad right now. Instead of just sitting around here they get an opportunity to play against the touring England side, which is good. They will gain experience.”
“We will see how the season pans out,” he concluded.
Speaking about the new Ranji Trophy format, Agarkar opined, “The teams have to play one more game in the league, nothing much has changed otherwise. There are four home and four away games that’s the only thing. And it [playing the opposition] is not on a reciprocal basis from last year. Nothing has really changed; you still have to play for a spot in the knock-outs. There is still the quarter-final, semi-final and final. It [the new system] is not going to get you straight to semi-final if you are on the top of your table. It is just one extra game so you have to work that much harder. Maybe if some of the teams have poor starts, they might have a little bit more time to come back and qualify. Apart from that we will have to play a season to know if it has changed anything in the format.”
“Because of the new point system teams will be pushed to go for a win, while earlier they used to be content. That should be a motive, then only you try and play positively. And more result oriented wickets and where bowlers also get a chance. Whether they get or no, the objective will be that. Hopefully, it will change for the better,” the Mumbai skipper added.