Not often in cricket, a coach remains in the limelight after a team wins a title, but Chandrakant Pandit’s aura and legacy is such that he becomes the center of attraction whenever his team progresses. This happened for the sixth time in the Ranji Trophy on Sunday. After winning the Ranji Trophy to Mumbai (thrice) and Vidarbha (twice), Pandit led Madhya Pradesh to its maiden first-class title. They beat the mighty Mumbai by six wickets at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
Despite his remarkable numbers as a coach in the domestic circuit, Pandit was never associated with the Indian Premier League franchise. Does it bother the former India wicketkeeper-batsman? “If I call (any IPL team), I will get something, but that is not my style,” he told PTI.
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He recalled how a meeting at the latter’s bungalow was scheduled with KKR’s principal owner Shahrukh Khan before the 2012 season.
He had said that day, “I met Mr. Shahrukh Khan at that time, but somehow I could not get myself to work under a foreign coach.”
He is now over 60 years old and will not be considered for any national team coaching assignments. But Pandit has no objection.
“Every trophy gives satisfaction but this one is special. I couldn’t do it years ago (23 years) as an MP captain. All these years, I have always felt that I have given up on something here. That’s why That I am a little more excited and emotional about it,” a clearly weary pundit said after his latest Ranji Trophy win.
Pandit has experienced heartbreak as a player – his best Test innings of 39 runs came in the famous tie Test against Australia at Chepauk. Then, he was well set for 24 in the 1987 World Cup semi-final against England at the Wankhede Stadium, but India lost the game. Or Kapil Dev’s crushing one-run defeat against Haryana in the final of the Ranji Trophy.
But the thing that hurt him the most was the Ranji final for MP in 1999, when he was crying inconsolably after losing to Karnataka. It was his last professional game and he lost.
(with PTI inputs)