Vinay acknowledges the work put in by the coaches

Fireworks offered a frenzied contrast to the team bus’s unhurried arrival through the main gate at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Monday afternoon. Soon, amidst the rush of officials and photographers, the members of the victorious Karnataka Ranji Trophy team descended on a venue, which is virtually their second home.

R. Vinay Kumar’s men, who won the State’s seventh Ranji title with a fine victory over Maharashtra in the final in Hyderabad, trooped in for their felicitation function, arriving straight from the airport. If there was fatigue from travel it was not apparent as all the players and the support staff sported beaming smiles and embraced the adulation with gratitude.

That searing tales of redemption are often scripted from the depths of defeat was driven home when Vinay, in his speech, mentioned that the loss against Mumbai in a bitterly fought final in Mysore in 2010 had left a lingering hurt, which the players nursed silently.

From that stumble was stoked the fire to win the Ranji Trophy, and Vinay said: “Most of the players from that final are here in this squad too, and at that time we were all pained. But we always had the belief that we could win the Ranji Trophy. Even this season, after starting with three draws, we were confident about our chances. Every player contributed and you could see that in the final too, and it is an amazing feeling.” The flashbulbs and the applause lingered long for opener K.L. Rahul and speedster Abhimanyu Mithun, who, with 1,033 runs and 41 wickets respectively — did the star-turn for the champion squad.

Collective effort

But the overwhelming leitmotif of a celebratory afternoon was around the team’s collective strength. Vinay also pointed out the effective work that the coaches J. Arun Kumar (batting) and Mansur Ali Khan (bowling) put in in the background which enabled the players to express themselves on the field.

“The coaches kept it simple, and that helped. More than being coaches — some of us have also played with them — they were like friends to us. Usually, debutants hesitate to speak out, but with Arun Kumar and Mansoor, they felt free,” the Karnataka skipper said.

KSCA secretary Brijesh Patel, while lauding the team, focussed on the future.

“What we achieved is tremendous, but please don’t relax because we have the Irani Trophy match coming up, this team should win that and all other titles and dominate Indian cricket,” he said.

And Vinay added: “Our core group has the strength to do well for the next 10 years.”

Meanwhile, KSCA president Ashok Anand said: “We will take care of all that you need, and I would like to add that we are dedicating this title to our late president Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar.”

Reward

The team was also promised a monetary incentive, and Patel repeated what he had mentioned on Sunday — a reward of Rs. 1 crore.

May be it was time to uncork the bubbly, but Vinay remained cautious. “We partied within limits last night because we have an Irani match coming up,” he said.

His men now have to cope with the weight of expectations in the wake of their stupendous show in the Ranji Trophy.

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