Seasoned campaigner Wasim Jaffer, who played a key role in Vidarbha’s comprehensive 9-wicket victory over Delhi in the Ranji Trophy final, has said that they were the underdog of the prestigious tournament.
Jaffer scored a gritty 78 in Vidarbha’s first innings as they took a massive lead of 252 over Delhi and consequently secured their maiden Ranji title.
"We were the dark horse and there is no two way about it. But it has been an amazing journey and the best part about this run has been how each and every player has put his hand up and made it count at some stage or the other in the tournament. This team isn’t about individuals. This team was and is about people coming together and wearing the Vidarbha crest on their chest with pride," Wasim Jaffer said in an exclusive interview with CricketNext.
Jaffer is playing first-class cricket since 1997. Having played for Mumbai for the most part of his career, the 39-year-old certainly knows the taste of success. He gave credit to the veteran coach Chandrakant Pandit for instilling character in the team with his top-notch discipline.
"It is all about attitude and approach at this level and that is where he played an important role. I have played under him before and he knows how to go about it and motivate a team. The team bonding sessions have been excellent and when you have guys swearing by each other and staying together for a couple of months, that counts. Chandrakant always believed we can and that rubbed in even on the youngsters," Wasim asserted.
The man of the semi-final Rajneesh Gurbani, once again proved his worth in the final. The 24-year-old Vidarbha pacer rocked Delhi with a hat-trick on second day and ended up with an 8-wicket haul in the all-important match.
Talking about Gurbani’s heroics in two of the most important matches, Jaffer said: "He might lack in pace when it comes to international standard bowlers, but he has the swing to make-up for it. Also, he is a fighter and is always eager to learn and listen to inputs from the senior players. But again, I would like to say that this team has done well because we have had different players putting their hands up and performing at some stage of the other of the competition."
Jaffer, who switched to Vidarbha from Mumbai this season, personally had a wonderful time with the bat. The stylish right-hander amassed 500 runs in 13 innings at an average of 54.09 with 3 fifties and a century in Ranji Trophy 2017-18.
On being asked to single out his favorite moment from the successful season aside from the Ranji triumph, Wasim picks the innings and 117 run win over Punjab in Chandigarh.
"That I would say was the game that gave us the confidence that we can beat the top teams. It is not easy against Punjab on their home ground. But Sanjay Ramaswamy and Ganesh Satish showed great character. Not to forget Akshay Karnewar’s effort of 8 wickets in the game. This is a team filled with quality performers and this experience will hold them in good stead in the years to come," concluded Wasim Jaffer.