Jul 4, 2022, 20:36 IST

Chandrakant Pandit: A Domestic Coaching Colossus who hasn’t made the step up – SKY247.com


Sports can be romantic, traumatic and at the same time make life seem worthwhile. The players on the field know every time they are on the field, they have a chance to make their country proud. Behind the scenes the coach or the manager play a huge role. Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger for Manchester United and Arsenal. Phil Jackson for LA Lakers, John Buchanan and Gary Kirsten for Australian and the Indian cricket teams. One man though has forged his own way, and found results come by and that man is Chandrakant Pandit.

Madhya Pradesh etch their names in history –

Week ago, Ranji Trophy witnessed the finals between Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh. Mumbai with 41 title wins were the strong favorites, but MP outbatted, outclassed and outplayed the strong Mumbai team. Cricketing fraternity was in awe as the team which was considered to be making up the numbers had made a meteoric climb. There was one many to thank and that was their Chandrakant Pandit.

Tears and heartbreak of 1999 –

The year was 1999 and the nation was in a frenzy at the show piece event which was to start a month later. India were scheduled to take part in the 1999 WC to be held in England. April that year though there was a small matter of Ranji finals between Karnataka and MP. The MP team was led by Pandit who was long out of International reckoning. Karnataka batted first and scored 304 sans its international stars as Somasunder with (70) and Bharadwaj with 86 top scored. MP scored 379 taking 75 run lead with Sahu scoring 130 and future Stalwart Bundela scoring 79. Karnataka scored 321 with Arunkumar scoring 147 and Bharadwaj scoring 75. Needing 247 to win, Bharadwaj spun a web as he picked 6/24 to bowl MP out for 150 as Pandit who scored 13 walked back to the hut in tears.

Tears of joy 23 years later –

When MP hit the winnings runs off the bowling of Sarfaraz Khan, the MP team stormed onto the pitch. The captain Aditya Srivastava was overjoyed and the entire team was happy at the huge success. There was one man though who scripted the entire plot and it was the coach who had shed tears of regret in 1999 shedding tears of joy in 2022. There was poetic justice too as the match was played at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Karnataka, the very same team who had beaten MP in 1999. It was Pandit’s way of saying “Am here now and you cannot deny me this time” it was a statement to the two behemoths of Indian domestic cricket, Mumbai and Karnataka.

The man behind the method –

Dinesh Karthik post the Ranji Final called Chandrakant Pandit the Sir Alex Ferguson of Indian cricket. Pandit doesn’t chew gum, doesn’t point at the watch, doesn’t disturb the furniture or play mind games, but he is a man manager and a master tactician like the great Manchester United Manager. There is a method behind his madness and he excels in making the players better. Like the great Scottish manager, Pandit believes in discipline and the value of working hard.

The carrot and stick approach –

Ishwar Pandey might be a name not many may remember, but in the mid 2010’s he was on the verge of making his debut for India, Pandey was part of the team which toured England in 2014. Speaking to Indian express ahead of the final, the 33 year old said “A player knows that if he does not act according to the plan, he will have to face sir’s wrath”. Pandit isn’t shy of taking things to the extreme if the need arises, During the two back to back title wins for Vidarbha, Pandit had made sure he took away the mobile phones of players. This was to reduce the distraction they could face ahead of a crucial game.

Slapping a player and getting kissed the next day –

Former India player Prashant Vaidya recalled an incident that is a fair testimony to Pandit’s approach. According to Vaidya the players have had their issues with the high handed approach of Pandit and have made their feelings known as well. This saw one player get slapped as well. Vaidya recalled while speaking to a newspaper “Players have complained but later they all have realised that he is doing this for us. Team is kept above individual performance”. Faiz Fazal who played for India in solitary ODI had to play the good cop to the strict cop approach of Pandit.

Fear of the coach within the players –

The MP players have time and again spoken about how Pandit would get angry at lapse of concentration or some batter playing a rash shot. The fear instilled was such that if any batter got out playing a rash shot he would hear a mouthful from the MP coach. This helped MP not only reach the final but create a generation of heroes. The likes of Yash Dubey, Himanshu Mantri, Rajat Patidar, Shubham Sharma all played a huge role in the title win for MP.

Too hot headed for Team India?

With all the success that Pandit has had one has to ask, why this title winning and team building success manual of Pandit hasn’t got a call up to the Indian squad. The answer is simple while the fear of the coach works in domestic circuit, it doesn’t cut ice in the international arena. It was evident in the rift between Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli, which cost Kumble his job. Indian international players love to be pampered and love to have a sympathetic arm around shoulder. Pandit though isn’t the one for playing the caretaker, he weeds out the ones who cannot hang on. The 60 year old loves to Micro Manage as he sends a substitute to the field to deliver his instructions. Can you imagine sending Kohli a message to bring Ashwin on to bowl on the 1st day in a test match away from home. There would be a national outcry as the coaching was over riding the captain. One cannot be away from scrutiny if Pandit slaps an Indian player for playing a rash shot. There would be mutiny and Pandit would be the one to be taking the blame.

Sir Alex Ferguson fell out with some of the biggest names but managed to keep the aura alive for 27 years. The “Hair dryer” is still spoken about with hushed tones even by the legends of the club. Chandrakant Pandit may not be coaching the Indian team but he sure is going to produce a bunch that is ready for the call up.

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