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Vidarbha hero Gurbani reflects on ‘dream come true’ moment

The fast bowler says he was determined to book his team’s maiden final berth

Having conceded a sizeable first-innings lead, Vidarbha pulled up their socks in the second innings to set Karnataka a modest 198-run target in the Ranji Trophy 2017-18 semi-final. With their task cut, the Faiz Fazal-led team took the field on Day 4 and put up an inspired performance to keep the match hanging in the balance at the end of the day. Rajneesh Gurbani, who had claimed four wickets to leave Karnataka on 111 for seven at stumps on fourth day, returned to bowl his side to a nail-biting five-run win on Day 5.

With his maiden ten wicket haul (5/94 and 7/68), Gurbani took Vidarbha to their maiden Ranji Trophy final.

Recalling the hours leading into the last day of play, Gurbani said, “We were thinking that it was fifty-fifty. It was anyone’s game. They needed 87 runs and we needed three wickets. We had to give our best. Obviously, we were nervous. I wanted the match to be done with quickly because more the delay, more the nervousness.”

“I was asleep by 9 pm (after Day 4) having played the whole day and I woke up at 12:30 am thinking it was 6 am. After I freshened up and looked out of the window it was still dark. I went back to sleep again and was up by 4:30 ... excited to bowl. I knew I would start the day with the ball for us. I was ready by 5 - 5:30 am and was waiting to bowl. I was excited and nervous.”

Asked about their plans given that Karnataka bat deep, the bowler said, “(Actually) They had more pressure because they had to make the runs. Our plan was to keep bowling maidens and force them to make mistakes. I was not thinking about getting a wicket; at first, I just wanted to bowl a maiden. Then the plan was that Umesh (Yadav) bhai and I will bowl in partnership and apply pressure from both ends.”
However, Vinay Kumar went after the Vidarbha bowling in the morning and had briskly taken his team to 141. Abhimanyu Mithun, who replaced him in the middle, too counter-attacked and Karnataka seemed to be cruising to the target. “When they started to attack, I was thinking that the more they attack it would become easier for me to take a wicket. Their main players didn’t go for the runs so they were already under pressure. They had nothing to lose with three wickets in hand they were trying to hit us for runs. But when Vinay Kumar got out that gave us another chance and then again Mithun started hitting us but we were just patient. I was thinking that they will now attack us and so I will cramp him. I knew if no runs come for 4-5 balls he will go for a big shot and the same happened.”

With six runs left, Gurbani once again had the ball in his hand. Speaking about it the bowler said, “I was actually trying to keep my excitement under control more than the nervousness. I had to give my hundred per cent and hope that the results come.”

Reflecting on his 12 wickets, the bowler picked Karun Nair’s wicket in the second innings as they most important one. “There was a partnership forming between Karun Nair and CM Gautam. In the first innings also, they had a crucial 139-run partnership and I wanted to end it and I got Karun Nair out. And again today (Day 5) morning the wicket of Vinay Kumar was a crucial one.

Discussing his bowling, Gurbani said, “The advantage that I find in my bowling is that I get swing, so I just want to put the ball in the right areas. If I do that I know the ball will swing the way I want, and I try to keep it as near to the stump (on the off-stump and fourth stump) as I can.”

Reflecting on his maiden ten-wicket haul and the stage he got it on, Gurbani said “It is a dream come true. I always wanted to take a ten-wicket haul in a match. I didn’t know it would come in a semi-final match at such a crucial moment. When I took the ten-wicket haul I wasn’t aware of it. I wasn’t thinking about the number of wickets I was taking. All I wanted was to take wickets and hope that my team would win.”

While speaking about bowling with Umesh Yadav he said, “He is a big inspiration for us I know him as a person and I really want to be like him; humble and helpful. During play, he does not say much about technicalities or anything, but helps me stay calm and keeps encouraging.”

Speaking about the captain and coach Chandrakant Pandit, he said,” Both are constantly guiding me where to bowl and how to bowl. The coach is so involved that it inspires me to do something for the team. Our coach is very emotional when he sees the team in trouble and seeing my coach suffer makes me uneasy, so I have to do it for him.

“When we started the season, we were focused on winning the trophy our focus was on becoming champions and nothing else. When we face a problem, we are always together as a team. And from the first match we have been following a particular routine and that has also helped us carry the momentum,” he said while looking back on the season so far.  

BCCI Staff

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Wanted to bat for full 50 overs: Jemimah Rodrigues

After smashing a double century, the Mumbai U-19 opener and captain relives her epic knock

With an unbeaten double century (202 off 163 balls) in Women’s Under 19 one-day match, Mumbai’s Jemimah Rodrigues made heads turn on November 5. The 17-year-old opener was also involved in a 300-run partnership for the second wicket with S Raut as she plundered runs off the Saurashtra attack.

Earlier in the tournament she had attacked the Gujarat U19 bowlers, scoring 178 off 142 balls to set-up the match for her team, but missed out on the double ton.

Discussing her innings, Rodrigues told bcci.tv, “Initially, my plan was to play the full fifty overs, which I had not done in the previous match. That was my target. I break down my targets. Normally what I do is I count my boundaries, if I have scored ten boundaries that means I have reached 50 that’s how I break down my innings.

“I basically play an attacking game. But yesterday it was important for me to stay and play full fifty overs for my team to win and do well,” she said while describing her batting.

Speaking about her partnership with S Raut, she said, “We are good friends so that helps us in our coordination. Also, we understand each other’s game really well.

Speaking about the Saurashtra attack, she said, “The attack was good. Initially, it was little difficult. There was bounce and movement and one of the pacers was bowling really well. So, our plan was to play that pacer out and get runs from the other end. Initially they were bowling pretty well. And we were playing on the merit of the ball.

Describing the moment she got to her double century, she said, “Raising the bat and helmet after the double century was a really good feeling. It was the first time I had scored a double century and that too in front of my parents which made it even better.”

Her father, Ivan, who has been working with her throughout said, “Against Gujarat, she had scored 178 after which I told her, ‘no problem this time you missed (200) in the next game you can make up for it. We don’t pressurize her. My advise to her is to play according to merit of the ball.

“She played a sensible innings here (against Saurashtra). An opener gets to play about 150 balls on an average, so she has to pace her innings, which she did well. Against Gujarat she got out hitting. She had to do that with few overs left. In this match, she got the last 40 runs mostly by rotating the strike and running twos and threes really hard. In between she got a boundary but all ground strokes. She accelerated the innings well after 100-104 few uppish shots and then accelerated her innings,” he added while reflecting on his daughter’s innings.

The youngster who started playing for Mumbai at the age of 12-and-half years says, “I started off as a medium-pacer then during one of the selection matches, I went in to bat at No 6 or 7 and got a good partnership. I hadn’t scored much (individually) but supported a senior player during the match. So, then the next match immediately I got promoted to one down (No 3) so from there it all began. Then we started working more on the batting too. She now bowls off-spin.

Rodrigues, starts her day with the gym training followed by practice. Her father says that the girl’s hockey training has helped her in cricket as well. “Like cricket, hockey too requires power, footwork, wrist power, stamina which has benefitted her cricket, especially the bending...the hockey training running on the shore, road-running and all those activities have helped her.”

Rodrigues, who also played basketball and football initially later, opted to play hockey and cricket competitively. Although, her focus is more on cricket, at this point, she still plays hockey whenever time permits.

A keen sportswoman, Rodrigues took to cricket by playing with her elder brothers. “She is enthusiastic about any game. Born to play; likes to play,” says Ivan. From playing alongside her brothers to playing club matches with boys’ teams has helped her develop her game. The guidance and support of coaches – Sanjay Gaitonde at the MCA, Prashant Shetty at the MIG club is helping the young cricketer, her father mentions.

The family shifted from Bhandup to Bandra when she was in the third standard for better access to facilities and grounds and from there on it has been a journey that the parents and the daughter have embarked upon together. “My parents were really happy, proud of me and were overwhelmed. All the hard work and sacrifices paid off. It was one of the best moments for them,” Rodrigues says while looking back on one of the best moments of her short career so far. She also thanks God. “Without Jesus Christ’s blessings, I couldn’t have done this,” she concludes. 

BCCI Staff

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