Ashok Dinda is a fiery competitor. He may not have the scorching pace of a fast bowler but he has the passion to bowl. It is a rare quality; to bowl even when you are exhausted; to bowl even after the captain is insisting you take a break.
Sourav Ganguly would vouch! “Untiring motivator,” says the former India skipper.
Robin Bist is the most successful batsman of the season and not just in terms of statistics. Many years ago, at a camp in Mumbai, Bist was one of the trainees and Mohinder Amarnath was the coach.
“I learnt how to step out from Mohinder Sir,” recalls Bist. Amarnath need not remember Bist but his pupil has learnt the lessons well.
Dinda and Bist symbolise the current domestic season, carrying their ambitions to the field and achieving them with remarkable consistency.
Dinda has 52 first-class wickets this season, including 37 in Ranji Trophy. Bist has compiled 1199 runs with 1034 of them coming in Ranji Trophy. They are the best this season in their category.
Both come to this city with a reputation to live up to. Dinda, 27, is aware that the conditions in India hardly favour bowlers. “Pitches are flat and cruel,” he smiles. But he sticks to “channel” bowling, wicket-to-wicket and always looking to make the batsman play.
The only challenge he faces is maintaining the ball. “New ball is easy but the problem comes when maintaining the ball as the game progresses. I allow only two fielders to shine the ball because it has to be properly nurtured for reverse swing.”
According to Bengal coach W.V. Raman, “Dinda is the best bowler today. He bowls every ball from his heart, especially on flat tracks.
“Unfortunately, the yardstick of being rewarded for consistency has not been applied to him.”
Bist, 24, is good at grinding the attack. “I hate to throw my wicket away,'' he spells his simple philosophy. “Earlier, I would think a lot. Think about making runs and then waiting to be picked for the higher league. It did not work.”
What did he do then? “Well, I just stopped thinking. I told myself I have to just go out there and bat; just bat.” The runs came in a torrent.
A Dinda-Bist duel could make for some stirring viewing at the Duleep Trophy final here between Central Zone and East Zone. Dinda believes in studying the batsman before snaring him.
Bist is a man of action and one who plays the ball on merit. Good form would never lure him into playing extravagant strokes.
“I don't live in the past. I enjoyed the Ranji Trophy but it is history now. I have to put my head down and excel in Duleep (Trophy).” He has his priorities in place.
Central, despite fast bowler Pankaj Singh being a doubtful starter, is a compact side and high on motivation. East will miss an injured Abu Nechim but it has its task cut out.
One can expect some intense cricket over the next five days at the Holkar Stadium here with a tinge of grass and promise of bounce by curator Samandar Singh.
The teams (from): Central Zone: Piyush Chawla (captain), Vineet Saxena, Mohammad Kaif, Robin Bist, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Naman Ojha, Jalaj Saxena, Rituraj Singh, T.P. Sudhindra, Pankaj Singh, Ashish Yadav, Mohnish Mishra, Ranjit Paradkar, Parvinder Singh and Tanmay Srivastava.
East Zone: Natraj Behera (captain), Dheeraj Jadhav, Manish Vardhan, Ishank Jaggi, Bilap Samantray, Wriddhiman Saha, Anustup Majumdar, Ashok Dinda, Shreevats Goswami, Shahbaz Nadeem, Basant Mohanty, Shami Ahmed, Rana Dutta, Gokul Sharma and Subhrajit Roy.
Umpires: Shuan George (South Africa) and S. Tarapore; Match Referee: Raju Mukherjee.
Keywords: Duleep Trophy