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Young Mumbai team will improve with time: Pandit

Abhishek, Dhawal, Tare assume responsibility as seniors says coach

40 times Ranji Trophy champions, Mumbai have embarked on the 2015-16 season under the able guidance of coach Chandrakant Pandit. The former India cricketer is at the helm of building the young team, who are looking to make their mark in the ongoing season.

Pandit has been working relentlessly with the Aditya Tare-led lot since being appointed the coach. Besides rigorous training sessions, players have been assigned roles and responsibilities on the field and off it, which the coach elaborated upon while talking to bcci.tv.

Excerpts from the interview:

Will you take confidence from the way the team played last year to reach the semi-finals despite the unavailability of regulars, injuries to players, debutants etc?

Of course! We should give credit to the entire unit. Last season too, the beginning was not as expected. It was similar to this year (a poor start), but I think they came back well in the tournament. Playing the semi-final is not an easy task. I especially would appreciate the young players who did not have much of experience playing in the Ranji Trophy for more than a couple of years and still they managed to do that. The injuries part I am not aware about so much but still I think (they did well) to reach the semi-finals. That definitely is a positive way of going forward. 

What are the challenges you see while looking to build a young team?

There is always a challenge when you take up any kind of assignment and especially with Mumbai, because people have so much expectations from the Mumbai team. Looking at the history it’s bound to happen that people are going to expect the same thing (the achievements). I would definitely say that looking at the young team which is in a building process, it is going to take little time. Mumbai has a lot of talent. Since seniors have retired and there are young players who are trying to build a reputation for themselves in the domestic cricket, it would have helped them to have some experienced players around. There are a lot of young players so it will take little time (to build the team). There are some players who have been playing for a couple of years and they will definitely take it forward. 

Would you look at Abhishek Nayar and Dhawal Kulkarni who are relatively more experienced than the others to guide them?

Yes, of course we have always been saying that Abhishek is always been our guiding force. That is what we call him. On the field and off it he is taking a lot of initiative to take the team together. I think it made a lot of difference when he started taking initiative, the gelling of the team is fantastic. Dhawal is back into the squad and he is taking responsibility to guide the fast bowlers. That’s how the combination goes. (Aditya) Tare is also taking a lot of initiative to take care of the squad. I would say that more than anything else we are happy as a unit. We spend a lot of time together and everyone is keen to understand what their responsibility is. 

Does the pace attack look much stronger with Kulkarni back and Shardul Thakur being the joint highest wicket-taker last season?

Of course, that has strengthened to the attack. Shardul has been bowling well since last year. Dhawal is an international cricketer and he has come back which is another push for us.

Mumbai's hasn't had a settled opening combination in some time. How do you work on that? Will it be a flexible line-up?

Looking at the young squad, we have a couple of good youngsters. We have to wait and see because not everyone can play in one game. We have to see how they fit in the team and as per the need of the team and the match situations. 

What do you look for in a player?

It’s the passion, the attitude and the discipline what we look for and I think that the boys understand very well. They have been following the process. We always been keeping in mind that we are working on a process rather than the result. The reason being we need to know what is the process to achieve the result. Result is definitely mandatory but we should not take on pressure by saying that we want to win all the time. Everyone must understand that it is a young lot and they need little time to build their reputation in front of people.

How do you impart and impress on the batsmen the importance of putting a price on the wicket?

That has been our Mumbai culture and history that Mumbai batsmen never give away their wickets (cheaply). It is considered a crime (if you throw your wicket away). That is what has been told to us by the past cricketers and that’s the same thing I pass on to them. They realise that. For some reason if we are going to lose the match or they are going to miss out on their hundreds that will not help them in the future.

Do you look to assign roles to the players?

Yes, we have been working on that already. We have talked about what is their role and what is expected by the team. In particular situations, I as the coach will pass on messages from time to time and they have to be flexible with that and they understand very well.

For the team to gel also we have made committees where players can take initiative. There is a fielding committee, a ground committee, meeting committee, even for things like travel, we have a travelling committee, and meetings organising committee. We even have a committee for organizing team dinner, so there is lot of responsibility. We have kept them busy and they have been enjoying a lot. They understand what is the importance of sharing that responsibility. 

Prajakta Pawar

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A ton to savour for the right reasons

India opener disappointed with loss but glad to start series with a century

Lovely shot! So easy on the eye! Elegance! Class! The moment you could hear those words in the background, you could get a sense that Rohit Sharma was at the crease. On Friday night, Rohit Sharma gave the capacity crowd at the HPCA stadium in Dharamsala its money’s worth and a hundred more reasons to cheer. The result might not have gone the way Rohit would have wished for but those walking back from the stadium would remember the knock for all the right reasons.

It was vintage Rohit on display - caressing boundaries through the gaps, sweet contact with the bat, some effortless shots over the boundary - all of it made to look so easy. He did have a nervy start surviving a close LBW shout in the very first over that he faced, but once he got a boundary in the very same over, there was no stopping him. That boundary had a stamp of authority and was only a sign of the dominance to come in the overs to follow.

But what has gone into the making of such a huge knock? In an exclusive chat with BCCI.TV, Rohit Sharma delves into the thought process behind his batting and speaks about the three figure mark he will remember for a long time.

Disappointing result for the team but personally you couldn’t have asked for a better start to the series.

It is always important to start a series well. I did have that in my mind when I went out to bat. My focus was on getting some runs in the very first game since it sets the tone for the rest of the series. I feel it is a good start. Obviously disappointed with the loss but we have to regroup as soon as we can and come back really strong.

You have two ODI double centuries to your name. Getting your first ever T20I century must give you immense joy.

Any hundred you get for your country in any format it is always special and I will cherish this. Unfortunately it didn’t come in a winning cause which is disappointing. It doesn’t matter how many runs you score. You are not happy if your team doesn’t win at the end of the day. But personally, I felt good batting out there.

Conditions to bat here (in Dharamsala) can get tough with ball doing a bit. How much of thought went into your innings tonight?

When I went to bat, I was just trying to assess the conditions because I have never played in these conditions in Dharamsala. We were expecting something off the pitch but it didn’t really happen. Once we got to know that the pitch was really good to bat on we really pushed hard in the middle. We always wanted to be ahead and put the pressure on the bowlers which is exactly what happened. Personally, I just wanted to hold my shape as long as possible while batting. In T20 format you do at times lose your shape and you try to hit the ball too hard. I wanted to just time the ball because it was a brilliant pitch to bat on. 
My only focus was to get the team to a good score and that kept me going forward to get that many runs. We knew with the dew coming in, it will be hard for the bowlers bowling in the second innings. So we wanted to get to a par score and having said that we knew that a total around 170-plus would be a very decent target here.

You spoke about the partnership with Virat Kohli. Both are naturally attacking batsmen. At such a scenario who decides who will play the role of the aggressor or complement the other?

That century stand with Virat Kohli was really important from the team’s perspective to get to a very good score. In any format if you get big partnerships, you are bound to get a big score on the board. We both are natural stroke makers and both of us like to play shots. It was an ideal platform for both of us to accelerate and keep playing our shots. We just wanted to keep pushing ourselves to get to a good score. What we really did well was running between the wickets and putting pressure on their bowlers whenever a new bowler would come to bowl. If you get a boundary in the first or the second ball when a new bowler comes to bowl, you always put a lot of pressure on that bowler and the captain to set fields as well. The bowler then begins to think and there are a lot of things that go on in his head at that moment. We did that successfully on most occasions and that plan worked for us. We will try and continue to do that.

You have played many big T20 knocks in the IPL as well. How do you go about planning your T20 innings?

My mode of playing is very simple. I assess the conditions and the match situation. While playing for IPL and India my biggest strength has been to analyse what is happening in the middle and then go forward. That is what I have always done and I will keep doing that because it has really helped me get to good scores over the years. I try to do it when I go out to bat but it may not happen every time. But, the idea behind my batting has been to push myself forward and keep batting till the end. We had a chat within the team that one batsman from the top four has to bat till the 16th or 17th over. I am glad I could do that.   

Anand Subramaniam

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