Chandrakant Pandit’s appointment as Madhya Pradesh head coach has come as good news for the state’s most experienced cricketer Devendra Bundela, who acted as the batting coach this season. Bundela retired in 2018 and has since taken over as the batting coach, with Abbas Ali as the head coach.
Although Vidarbha tried to retain him, Chandrakant Pandit followed his own style of not spending anything more than three years with a team and decided to take up the head coach role at the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association. His successful formula, which has seen Mumbai lifting multiple titles and Vidarbha securing consecutive titles in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 season, will be now applied in Madhya Pradesh that has a number of talented players like Mihir Hirwani, Yash Dubey, Ravi Yadav, and Venkatesh Iyer.
It is important because after the retirement of Devendra Bundela, shifting of Harpreet Singh Bhatia and Jalaj Saxena and absence of Naman Ojha owing to a bad run of form, MPCA has been suffering mediocrity after their semi-final appearance against Mumbai in the 2015-16 season of Ranji Trophy. The news has made Bundela, a Ranji colossus in his own right and the second-highest capped player in the history of India’s domestic competition, very happy.
“This is really great news for Madhya Pradesh cricket. He has come with a lot of experience and his track record says it all. He played for Madhya Pradesh earlier and I played under his captaincy during my initial days. He was a wonderful cricketer and a proven coach for Mumbai and Vidarbha,” Bundela, who acted as the team’s batting coach last year, told SportsCafe in an exclusive interview.
Pandit will effectively take over from Abbas Ali who had Bundela as the batting coach and Harvinder Singh Sodhi in the dual role of bowling coach and manager. While an MPCA official revealed that no call has been taken about Ali’s future, Bundela also decided to play his card close to his chest and stated that he is unsure about Pandit’s plans yet.
“I haven’t been informed yet by MPCA. I might remain the batting coach, might not even. See, Pandit, as a coach, has his own formula and he might want to form his own team. We are amidst a nation-wide lockdown. So no information has been passed on yet. That remains to be worked out. He will guide us throughout,” the former Madhya Pradesh skipper added.
The Madhya Pradesh set-up won’t be entirely new for Pandit, who had the previous experience of playing for the team for six years in the past. After turning up for Mumbai for the majority of his career, Pandit went on to represent MP and Assam in the process before being appointed as the Mumbai coach that won the 2003 and 2004 Ranji Trophies.
When Pandit oversaw the Maharashtra team, he helped the side secure a shock away win against Mumbai in the 2005-06 season as well as their Ramakant Desai Trophy triumph in 2006-07. He was also at the helm of affairs when the team won the Under-19 Cooch Behar Trophy for the first time and the success stories after that have been well documented. Bundela believes his process and accountability will have a huge bearing on the team’s fortunes.
“He is very strict and the way he handled both Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh was an example. Our cricketers have been very hard-working. Coaching is about mutual understanding and as a coach, Pandit is very accountable. Playing here for more than six years, he knows our culture and hopefully, our players will adapt themselves as well to his work ethic,” Bundela concluded.