Coaches shower praise on Jadhav and Zol
Soon after Maharashtra's staggering win over Mumbai the Ranji Trophy quarter-final, while the Mumbai camp wore a stunning silence, former Mumbai captain Madhav Mantri and former player and coach Vasu Paranjpe headed into the visitors' dressing room. Not by mistake, but it was because they wanted to compliment the Maharashtra team for their stunning comeback.
"He [Mantri] basically said 'you are a young side and you can become a formidable side' and Vasu sir said 'now that you've beaten Mumbai, don't lose to anyone else'. That's what we will all remember," an elated Maharashtra coach Surendra Bhave said after his team's eight-wicket victory at the Wankhede Stadium.
Despite wearing a dejected look, Mumbai coach Sulakshan Kulkarni credited the Maharashtra duo of Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Zol, whose unbroken 215-run partnership for the third wicket took the game away from Mumbai.
"They batted brilliantly, both of them," Kulkarni said after Mumbai's quest for a 41st Ranji title ended with a humiliating loss. "Let me tell you, we never expected anyone to put on 200 runs on this wicket, [that too] against Zaheer Khan. You need everything to do so well, you need temperament, skill, guts, tactics. They did everything."
Bhave admitted that Jadhav and Zol's composure made it a smooth ride for his team. "Given the conditions, we all thought the game was in balance at the end of the day's play yesterday. But Kedar and Vijay just took it away, first soaking the pressure and then with aggression," he said.
Jadhav and Zol, both natural strokemakers, were patient in the morning till the ball lost its shine. "It was all about seeing off the new ball," Bhave said. "And with Mumbai bowling that wide of off stump in the morning helped solve our problem to an extent."
In response, Kulkarni put the onus on captain Zaheer Khan. "On the field, inside the boundary, captain is the boss. Whatever decisions have been made in the field have been by the captain."
While complimenting the batsmen, Bhave didn't forget to acknowledge the work of Maharashtra's bowling unit on the third day that helped them recover after conceding a 122-run lead. "The third morning proved to be a turnaround as our batsmen got us closer to the Mumbai total. They showed the aggression that kind of shifted the onus.
"There was a point when I thought they should have mellowed down a bit, and take the score much closer than that. Having said that, once the bowlers started hitting the right areas - I knew that this was a sort of wicket where if you pitch in the right areas, the edge will come - so it was all about catching and our catching was brilliant. That's how we got back into the match."
Having beaten the traditional rivals in their own den was a huge boost for Maharashtra's inconsistent form of late. After having been promoted from the Plate league in 2011-12, Maharashtra finished at the bottom of Group B last year to be relegated to Group C.
"It's an outstanding feeling," Bhave said. "Beating Mumbai in Mumbai itself is big and doing it in a knockout match - in a quarter-final - just makes it better. All the credit goes to the players. The heart that they have shown in this match, it's truly outstanding. When you're down by 122 runs on a seamer-friendly track in Mumbai, not many teams would have shown that kind of lion-hearted attitude. Hats off to the players."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo