Ajinkya Rahane Praises BCCI For Giving Importance To Domestic Cricket

Old guard Ajinkya Rahane understands the significance of religiously turning up for domestic matches to become a battle-hardened cricketer. So it came as no surprise when the batter Thursday lauded the BCCI for pushing players towards excelling in red-ball cricket. The BCCI has been actively urging the senior cricketers towards playing red-ball cricket, including domestic competitions such as the Ranji Trophy. “I want to mention about BCCI for giving importance to domestic cricket, which is a very good thing. Allowing players to go and play domestic cricket is very important,” Rahane said after guiding Mumbai to a record-extending 42nd Ranji Trophy title.

The board had recently dropped middle-order batter Shreyas Iyer and wicketkeeper-batter Ishan Kishan from the central contracts list for not taking the Indian team management’s advice of playing Ranji Trophy in order to regain their form and prove their fitness.

Speaking about the triumph, Rahane said Mumbai must look to repeat this performance in the next season.

Mumbai won the premier domestic competition for the first time since 2015-16, defeating Vidarbha by 169 runs in the final here at the Wankhede Stadium.

In fact, for the Ranji Trophy behemoths, it was their 11th win in 13 finals alone at the Wankhede.

“For us, what is important is that (in the) last couple of years, as a team we are playing good cricket. Our players are actually going into Indian team and representing Indian team which is a very good sign for Mumbai cricket again,” Rahane told the media after leading his team to title triumph.

“I’m not too bothered about other teams, but from here on, for Mumbai cricket, it is important to keep growing, keep thinking about how can we get better as a team in all the formats. We want to repeat this in coming years so our focus will be on that,” Rahane said.

Rahane said Mumbai can be proud of the fact that several of their players are either playing for India across formats or have been around the national side in the recent times.

“This victory means a lot to us. It is very special as you mentioned, (Mumbai) representing almost 10 players across formats and which is a very good sign. We all are happy (for) guys who are representing India right now from (the) Mumbai team,” Rahane said.

The win also brought an end to the career of Mumbai and India seamer Dhawal Kulkarni, who retired after taking 281 wickets in 95 first-class matches while having also played 12 ODIs and two T20Is for the country.

Kulkarni said he has no complaints about not having a long career at the international stage.

“What is gone is gone, I look at the future than what has happened in the past. I know I should have played more cricket for the Indian team,” Kulkarni said.

The right-arm pacer said he would be available to take up any role which keeps him associated with the sport.

“I have not thought about it much but cricket has given me so much that I want to give it back to cricket. Whether it be coaching or whatever I get, I want to give it back to cricket,” Kulkarni said.

Kulkarni, who had the unique distinction of taking the first and the last wicket in the final, said Mumbai were always patient against Vidarbha’s resistance.

“Winning a final in a tough way is what you want and that’s what we did as a team. We hung on to our nerves, put pressure, bowled really well, all the bowlers chipped in, it was you could say bowling in partnership and that’s what we did,” Kulkarni said.

“We didn’t lose our nerves. In the end we knew that we wanted one wicket, we wanted to break that partnership,” he added.

Rahane, who had described Mumbai’s head coach Omkar Salvi as ‘low-profile’ in domestic cricket, said he made a massive difference.

“Massive difference. The credit goes to him. Our journey as a team started from June (in 2023) and it was all because of Omkar’s vision,” Rahane said.

“We had some vision as a team but it came from Omkar so he focused on fitness, creating a great culture in the team, giving freedom to all the players, not only on the field but off the field as well. When someone is not doing well, you have to back that individual,” he added.

Kulkarni seconded Rahane and said Salvi created the right environment for their side.

“I also like to add that when you want a coach, you want to be a good friend of the team you are coaching. Omkar has been that person who everyone looks up to. He’s helped me a lot in my bowling career,” Kulkarni added.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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