| Rathore: Taking Sourav’s advice
Calcutta: Former India opener and prolific run-getter in domestic cricket may have been well past his prime, but he is still clinging on to a thin silver-lining, provided to him by none other than India captain Sourav Ganguly.
If there is one place in the Indian team which has changed hands too frequently in recent times, it has been the man behind the wickets. Inspired by Sourav’s “good advice”, Rathore, in the city as a Himachal Pradesh Ranji Trophy team member, is now planning to explore that delicate place.
“Last year Sourav told me I should concentrate on wicketkeeping since India still need a good wicketkeeper-batsman. It may be too late for me, but I’m trying my best to that end,” Rathore said at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.
“Since Rahul (Dravid) has started keeping, India have got a right balance in bowling and batting. This being a temporary measure, I think, chances are still there,” he added.
The Himachal Pradesh captain, who has joined the state team from Punjab this year, however, admitted a return to the national squad was going to be a rough ride. “I made my Ranji Trophy debut as wicketkeeper but stopped doing it since 1994. Therefore, after a gap of seven years, it’s not going to be easy to get back to a job as difficult as a wicketkeeper’s,” he said.
“Besides, my injury (he twisted his ankle during a Ranji match against Services last November) also hampered my preparations,” he added.
Himachal Pradesh will take on Bengal in their Ranji Trophy group match at the Eden from Sunday. Talking about his team, Rathore said the side was a blend of experience and young talent. “This team is basically a bunch of unknowns. So we hope to surprise somebody… who knows it could be Bengal!” he said.
Coach Tej Kaul said the team was going through a rebuilding process. “We are a young talented side with players like Vikram and Aashish lending a touch of experience to it”. Incidentally, Himachal Pradesh came out pointless in their first match against Andhra Pradesh, who bagged one by virtue of their first-innings lead.
Rathore, however, criticised the point system in the new Ranji Trophy format. “On one hand, you are trying to ensure positive cricket. On the other, a team on the back of a first-innings lead, which means one point, may not go for an outright win. Because a loss will not guarantee that one point either. Thus, the new system appears contradictory to me,” Rathore commented.
Bengal coach Sambaran Bannerjee, on the other hand, said the match was crucial for Bengal. “Weather came in our way against Rajasthan. So we need to win against Himachal Pradesh,” Sambaran said.
HIMACHAL PRADESH SQUAD: Vikram Rathore (captain & wicketkeeper), Aashish Kapoor, Rajiv Nayyar, Amit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, Nischal Gaur, Virender Sharma, Sangram Singh, Ashok Thakur, Vishal Bhatia, Vikram Jeet Malik, Rahul Patna, Puneet Lath (second wicketkeeper), Rajinder Thakur, Paras Dogra, Vijay Kumar.