Vinayak Samant pips Powar to become Mumbai coach

The Mumbai players celebrate their 41st Ranji Trophy title John Michel

Former wicketkeeper Vinayak Samant has pipped Ramesh Powar to become head coach of Mumbai for the 2018-19 season. Samant's appointment ends a month-long fracas that first started with Sameer Dighe's resignation in June.

"I'm very glad and very happy, but at the same time I know that it's a very big responsibility on me," Samant said. "I'm sure that I will fulfil with very positive results. So I'm hoping my presence will benefit players as well as the association. Let's hope for best."

Samant, Powar and Pradeep Sunderam, the former Rajasthan fast bowler, were the three shortlisted candidates formally called for interviews by Mumbai's Cricket Improvement Committee (CIC) comprising Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Raju Kulkarni, Kiran Mokashi and Sahil Kukreja. However, the CIC also then approached former India batsman Pravin Amre to take up the vacant role even though he hadn't formally applied for the job.

Amre, who was last Mumbai coach until the 2015-16 season, is understood to have asked for time, because his involvement as batting coach with Delhi Daredevils put him in a direct conflict of interest. The final decision was taken a day after the matter was deliberated over a nine-hour long meeting in Mumbai.

Samant, 45, represented Mumbai, Assam and Tripura during the course of his 16-year first-class career. His last stint as a player with Mumbai, with whom he won four Ranji Trophy titles, was in 2010. He formally retired from first-class cricket in December 2011. In all, he played 101 first-class matches and made 3496 runs at 28.19.

Samant has previous coaching experience, having helmed Mumbai's Under-23 squad for two seasons after being appointed in 2015 following Sairaj Bahutule's resignation. Meanwhile, recently-retired allrounder Wilkin Mota was handed charge of the Under-19 side for the 2018-19 season.

Mumbai, who last won the Ranji Trophy in 2015-16, have had as many as three coaches in the last four seasons. Chandrakant Pandit, who returned for two seasons, was sacked following Mumbai's loss in the Ranji Trophy final to Gujarat in January last year.

They endured a difficult 2017-18 domestic season, where they were were beaten in the quarterfinal of both the Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy, by Karnataka and Maharashtra respectively, while losing three of their four matches in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s.