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Sachin praises Agarkar effort

Mumbai: Calling Mumbai a “champion” side, Sachin Tendulkar on Monday attributed their 40th Ranji Trophy triumph to “team work”, and lavished praise on captain Ajit Agarkar for leading the team from the front.

“We won for the 40th time. Mumbai has again showed that it is a champion side. We have a good team, nice blend of youngsters and senior players,” Tendulkar said after their innings and 125-run win.

“It is a wonderful moment for Mumbai cricket, not just for the players but also for the administrative side. It’s been a team work and I take this opportunity to congratulate every one and hope it continues,” said Tendulkar, who has been part of five Ranji triumphs out of six final appearances.

The 39-year-old, who has retired from one-day Internationals, praised his Mumbai teammates for sticking together when the going was tough.

“There were moments when the going was tough, but that is when the team stuck together and performed brilliantly. I feel very happy, especially for Ajit Agarkar, who had a rough season last year. It was really difficult for him,” he said, referring to the wily pacer’s omission from the playing XI before a match the previous season.

“But this time, he led from the front and led beautifully. He performed when it mattered. The team, along with the support staff, supported him right through,” Tendulkar added.

The only final when Tendulkar was a member of the team and Mumbai lost was in his maiden season, way back in 1990-91, when they lost to Haryana by two runs in a memorable contest.

Agarkar echoed Tendulkar as he attributed the triumph to team effort and said lifting the title as a captain makes it even more special.

“Everyone has chipped in at different times in the season. We’ve had eight or nine boys who have had an exceptional season, and that’s why we’re here today,” said Agarkar.

“Dhawal (Kulkarni) is one of the guys who has done well. He’s been our standout performer for four or five seasons now. (Wicketkeeper Aditya) Tare has had a great season, as has Hiken (Shah)… Sachin has played a crucial role…

“I am very happy and very proud. I have won it before, but to win it as a captain makes the win even more special,” he added.