Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ranji Captaincy Race

Harshad Khadiwale and Nikhil Paradkar hold the edge overKedar Jadhav for the demanding job


Pune Mirror, October 26, 2008 Suhrid Barua
Pune: With just a week to go before Ma-harashtra launch their 2008-09 Ranji Trophy Super League campaign against Tamil Nadu in Nashik, beginning No-vember 3, the naming of the state cap-tain has grabbed the maximum spotlight. As on expected lines, the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) has been tight-lipped about the same, but sources close to MCA tell us three players — Harshad Khadiwale, Nikhil Paradkar and Kedar Jadhav — all of whom have captained the state team in the pre-season warm-up games — are widely tipped to assume the ‘hot seat’.

Speculation

The speculation mills have gone into an overdrive and have made us feel that Kedar Jadhav would be the one who would replace Venugopal Rao as the new Maharashtra captain. But hold on: Even though Kedar is one among the three in the fray for the captaincy role, the MCA have almost zeroed in on the two other guys — Harshad Khadiwale and Nikhil Paradkar. In all probability, it will be a toss-up between the two unless of course things change dramatically.

Frontrunners

In some quarters, there is a school of thought that Harshad Khadiwale could be the man for the job as there are whis-pers that Nikhil Paradkar may just miss the boat because of his lack of Ranji ex-perience. Actually, both Harshad and Nikhil are looked upon as guys having a shrewd cricketing head. Incidentally, Nikhil Paradkar was just named the captain of the state under-22 side after Deepak Shilamkar wanted to be relieved from captaincy. Nikhil has impressed the people who matter with his captaincy skills during the pre-season sidegames.


What has also become increasingly clear is that the MCA won’t be looking beyond these ‘three’ or should we say ‘two’. It is also learnt that the state association would name the captain only for the first two games against Tamil Nadu and Andhra. Ask Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) president Ajay Shirke on the same? He offers a straight bat. “You can speculate in whatever way you want. We’ve a selection committee to take a call on this and you will come to know about the naming of the new captain very soon,” he intimated.

It’s worth remembering that Harshad Khadiwale was the top run-getter for Ma-harashtra last season, smacking 468 runs from seven matches at an impressive av-erage of 39.00. His average was second best after Yogesh Takawale. The fact that Khadiwale is a solid top-order batsman and can bowl military-medium pace makes him not just an asset for the state side but also the ideal bloke for the hugely responsible captaincy job.
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