Wasim, Dhawal were exceptional: Tendulkar
A young Mumbai team, led by Ajit Agarkar – who made his captaincy debut this season – celebrated their 40th Ranji Trophy triumph at the Wankhede Stadium.
Among them, was one player, who has played more cricket than all of them combined, won more matches and trophies than most in the sport. But seeing the unbridled joy on Sachin Tendulkar’s face, one could see how much the victory meant to him. He has been part of six Ranji Trophy finals and emerged on the victorious side five times. Yet, his jubilation was as innocent as that of someone who had just won the first trophy of his life.
After Mumbai secured the title by beating Saurashtra by an innings and 125 runs, Tendulkar was elated for his team and praised his young team-mates for their effort.
“I’m very happy for Ajit Agarkar who made his debut as Mumbai Ranji captain this season,” Tendulkar said. “He was well supported by the team. I’m really excited for him and also for the young boys who played as a team throughout the season.”
The champion batsman had a word of thanks for the men who worked behind the curtains to help the team achieve success. “It is a wonderful moment for each and every one at Mumbai Cricket and I want to thank the Mumbai support staff for their guidance in this long season. It has been a team effort and everyone deserves the credit for this win,” he said.
While Tendulkar acknowledged the team-work, he had special words of praise for the heroes of the final – Wasim Jaffer and Dhawal Kulkarni. “Wasim and Dhawal were exceptional and I’m very pleased for them.”
Kulkarni picked up nine wickets in the match, including a five-wicket haul in the second innings. Jaffer produced a characteristically solid 132 to ensure Mumbai didn’t have to bat twice.
Jaffer was pleased to have had helped his team to the title with his record 32nd Ranji Trophy ton. He admitted Mumbai blew hot and cold in the season but took their game to another level when it mattered most.
“It was a great moment to get a hundred in the final and I’m really happy with the team,” the opening batsman said.“We’ve had a tough season but after qualifying for the semis we played really well.
“In the league stages our catching was a bit poor but in the knockouts we put all aspects of our game together and bowlers, batsmen, fielders, everyone joined hands to take the team to the top,” Jaffer said.
While the opening batsman was declared Man of the Match, Jaffer gave credit to the bowlers for Mumbai’s complete dominance in the match.
“The bowlers did their job really well. It was important to bowl in the right areas after winning the toss and electing to field first.This wicket had much more help for the bowlers than the earlier ones and it was a good decision to bowl first. The bowlers made it look even better.”
Like Tendulkar, Jaffer too hailed young Kulkarni, who saved his best of the season for the biggest matches. The 24-year-old pacer picked up five-fors in the semi-final and the final, leading the bowling attack with aplomb.
“I thought he was a bit unlucky in the league stage where he was bowling well but couldn’t pick up wickets,” Jaffer observed. “But in this game and even in the semi-final against Services, he got us wickets exactly when we wanted him to.”