Advertisement

With uneven bounce the umpires wanted to call off the game but match referee persisted: Govinda Poddar

Govinda Poddar
Odisha Ranji Trophy skipper Govinda Poddar. (Photo Source: sportslogon.com)

It was quite a strange game at the Wayanad’s Krishnagiri Stadium between Odisha and Maharashtra in the 8th round of Ranji Trophy 2016-17. Odisha made 311 runs in 82.1 overs for the loss of 9 wickets on the opening day while Maharashtra were surprisingly bowled out twice in a span of 60 overs on the 2nd day aggregating just 201 runs. Interestingly, this was the first innings win in Ranji Trophy for Odisha since their last vs Tripura in 2006-07 season.

The Krishnagiri stadium that usually produces lively green tracks continued the trend in this game as well, with the addition of odd balls taking bounce without evenness, which almost led to the game being called off. Talking to CricTracker after the game, Odisha captain Govinda Poddar said, “Just one hour into play on the first day itself, the wicket was behaving unnaturally with uneven bounce. So the umpires were thinking to take a call on whether to stop the game but match referee wanted the game to be carried on unless the uneven bounce continues when we were at 80/3.

Advertisement

At 170/6, I was thinking if we can get anything more than 220-230, we can go for an outright win. The wicket was really tough to bat on. It was an extraordinary batting performance by Biplab Samantary. Deepak Behera supported him well which got us a very good total. On the second day, we planned to unsettle them by attacking and enforcing follow-on so that they won’t have the time to discuss and get back into the game. The seamers had everything for them from the track. It was purely mind game from our part.

In the previous games against Assam and Karnataka, Odisha looked to grab full 6 points but were denied by the oppositions after taking leads of 158 and 163 respectively. Now with this win, Odisha stand at No.3 in the points table and will need to do something terrible against Jharkhand in their final league game to miss out on the knockouts berth.

It was a very good win. We had tried for outright in the last two games against Assam and Karnataka but couldn’t get it despite taking huge leads. It happened here, so hopefully we can do the same in the last game or at least play well in the final league game and make it to the knockouts by looking at scenarios. Jharkhand are in very good touch and they might qualify even before playing that game.

In hindsight, the additional break they get having won the game early will be a blessing for Odisha, who will be traveling long and this gives them time to come out fresh before the all-important final league match according to their captain. “It was a very good time to win within 2 days. The problem playing at Wayanad is the transportation facility. We will be playing the game at Dindigul (vs Jharkhand). From here, we have to travel for 10-12 hours by bus to reach there because if we take a flight we have to go by bus till Kochi.

After playing in four games, Odisha were in the bottom half in the points table in Group B. But a couple of spirited performances starting from a double century by Govinda himself, Odisha rose up and now have a shot at the knockouts for the first time since 2001-02 season. Talking about what this season and Odisha’s history in Ranji Trophy, Govinda said: “I scored a couple of fifties before that game (vs Assam). We were batting well after conceding first innings leads in earlier games. So I wanted to bat long to get a lead after Assam scored 300. I got a double and Biplab got a century. From there we gained the momentum and things turned around for us.

I have been a part of the Odisha team for the last 7 seasons. As a captain, I have got a very good bunch of players this season. It is a good mixture of seniors and youngsters who have come through their U19 ranks. I guess we have executed the plans very well. Since the KSCA tournament before the season, we have maintained the same combination. I can’t say what happen in the last 15 years, but in this season, simply I can say, the planning has given us the results.

Despite having to travel a lot during the course of the tournament, Govinda Poddar was quite happy with the neutral venues idea as it doesn’t give any unfair advantage to a team. “If you ask me personally, I am happy with the neutral venues. If someone comes to Odisha, they know there will be a seaming track since we have a very good pace attack. If you go to Bombay (Mumbai) and Maharashtra, we know that they will give us a Patta (flat) track. With neutral venues, the host association won’t prepare a pitch that gives advantage to a team because they don’t support a particular team.

If we go to Rajkot now and the curator is preparing a pitch, with 4mm grass on red soil, the pitch will support the batsmen, pacers and spinners. If Saurashtra will be playing there, they will have a complete rank turner or a patta track. So I look at neutral venues as a challenge because we don’t know what type of pitch will be rolled out.

Advertisement