Proud to keep up Mumbai legacy: Agarkar
The 2012-13 victory will go down as Mumbai’s 40th Ranji Trophy win but in Ajit Agarkar’s life it will hold an extremely special place. It was his first Ranji season as Mumbai’s captain and he led the team to the title at the Wankhede Stadium.
The skipper was mighty pleased with his team who stuck together through rough and rosy times and got their A game out in big matches.
“I’ve won a few before but this is special, coming as captain. We’ve got a very proud bunch of guys and everyone has performed professionally throughout the season,” said Agarkar. “We’ve got about eight or nine exceptional cricketers in the squad and I couldn’t be happier as their captain.”
Agarkar acknowledged that home advantage game Mumbai an upper-hand going into the final. “Saurashtra obviously had a good season and that’s why they reached the final. But we know the conditions here well and did our job well,” he said, adding he was surprised by the way Saurashtra crumbled in their second innings.
While the Mumbai captain considered himself fortunate enough to have Sachin Tendulkar by his side, he also lavished generous praise on the younger members of his team, who stepped up to the plate every time they were required to.
“It was perfect timing, wasn’t it? I’m sure some people would have liked for him to continue playing ODIs but for us [Tendulkar’s retirement from ODIs] has worked really well.
“Having said that youngsters have been our strength always. We have new players coming in and settling within the team quite quickly. That has always been a case with Mumbai cricket and it helps us grow,” Agarkar said, referring to the likes of Aditya Tare, Hiken Shah, Abhishek Nayar and Ankeet Chavan.
The former India pacer owed his first Ranji win as captain to Wasim Jaffer and Dhawal Kulkarni – the batting and bowling heroes in the final.
“Wasim was exceptional. He keeps doing this for us,” he said, talking about the opener’s 132-run knock in the final. “To play an innings like that on a wicket that assisted the pacers throughout, is special. That explains why he is the top run-scorer in the Ranji Trophy.
“Dhawal has been performing for us since four-five years now. He bowled exceptionally well and could have had eight wickets (in the 2nd innings) if he had little bit more luck,” Agarkar said of the pacer who picked up 5 for 32 in the second innings.
The skipper hailed the juicy Wankhede pitch that he felt was made to produce tight battle between bat and ball. He was also pleased that his bowlers vindicated his decision to bowl first.
“Moisture on first day worked for us. Normally we don’t field unless there is lot in the pitch. But we bowled well and took our catches, which wasn’t happening at the league stage.
“Curators try to make good wickets. Everyone knows we always get sporting tracks at Wankhede where there’s something in it for everyone” Agarkar said.
In the end, Agarkar felt proud to have taken Mumbai’s rich legacy in the Ranji Trophy forward. “We’ve all grown up knowing what the history of Mumbai cricket is and we’re very proud to be part of that legacy and that dressing room,” he said.