India news January 1, 2013

Sanjay Bangar retires from first-class cricket

Sanjay Bangar, the former India allrounder, has retired from first-class cricket, bringing to an end a career that spanned over 20 seasons. He announced this decision when his team Railways failed to qualify for the quarter-finals after defeating Bengal in their final Group A match in Kolkata.

"At the start of the season, I thought about giving it another shot. But having not qualified for the quarterfinals, that was it for me. Winning Ranji would have been ideal. We missed out narrowly on making it to the knockouts. But it has been a very satisfying season and a satisfying journey," Bangar, who is the oldest player in the Ranji Trophy this season, told ESPNcricinfo from Kolkata.

He shocked his Railways teammates by breaking the news after their victory against Bengal. "The decision was made today. After we came to know about the Saurashtra result, which meant that even a victory won't be enough for us to progress, then I made up my mind," Bangar said. "When I told the teammates, they were not ready for it. They were slightly taken aback but that's fine."

Bangar played 12 Tests and 15 ODIs between 2001 and 2004. Besides playing a crucial role in securing Railways' maiden Ranji title in 2001-02, and then repeating the feat in 2004-05, Bangar was instrumental in converting the team from also-rans to serious title contenders in the domestic circuit. The man from rural Maharashtra, who shifted base to Mumbai only to pursue his dream of playing cricket as a teenager, had, thus, no regrets looking back at his career.

"Overall, it's been a very satisfying journey. Played for the country, contributed to winning Test matches away from home. Winning five [domestic] championships for Railways. Making Railways a force to reckon with. I cannot ask for more. No regrets at all," Bangar said. "It's ended on a good note as well. Even though it was disappointing to have missed out narrowly on qualifying for the knockouts, it feels nice to have crossed the landmarks of 8,500 runs and 300 wickets [in first-class cricket]."

Though it was "too early" for him to mull over his future, Bangar promised to be involved in the game. "I will surely be associated with cricket in some way or the way. Let's see how it turns out."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo