Skandan Sampath

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Blog Posts by Skandan Sampath

  • Jaydev Shah: Wish Pujara and Jadeja were here

    The two players are away on national duty.

    Mumbai: Ahead of their historic Ranji Trophy final against 39-time champions Mumbai, Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Shah admitted that the presence of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja would have given his team a lot of mental satisfaction. The two players are away on national duty.

    On Saurashtra being in the final

    Big opportunity for us. It is a big game for us. Mumbai is a very experienced side. Get a good start, best effort in the first inning.

    Final Preview: Mumbai vs Saurashtra

    On Pujara and Jadeja's absence

    It is Pujara's birthday today. He sent us his best wishes for the final. It is a very huge void to fill. They were really doing welll. Can't help it if they are away on national duty. If they were in the side, we would have got a lot of mental satisfaction. The opponents, too would have felt the pressure. It is fine. We have to fight without them.

    On pressure

    The challenge is not to take the pressure. It is the first final of our careers. We must focus hard and do well. I think,

    Read More »from Jaydev Shah: Wish Pujara and Jadeja were here
  • Revisiting Ranji

    A visit to the school where one of cricket’s greatest icons learnt the game.

    Rajkumar College is a school in Rajkot.

    As you enter the campus, you can see time frozen in brick and cement. Walking towards its cricket ground, you see little boys running around in their games hour. Don’t worry, they’ll leave the turf wicket alone. Follow the perimeter of the outfield. Look at the scoreboard. Ignore the fact that you polished your shoes in the morning. Watch out for a concrete platform, with three rows of steps in front, surrounded by trees. As the sun warms your back, make your way to the pavilion. Just another school cricket ground being described. Right?

    Not quite.


    “You are at the place where Ranjitsinhji learnt his cricket”, exclaims Jaidevsinhji Jadeja. The concrete platform (pic below) used to be a pavilion, where the man who invented the leg glance sat, waiting for his turn to bat. As a school boy, before Principal Macnaughton took him away to England.



    One day after Saurashtra defeated Punjab to enter the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy final, Yahoo! Cricket decided to Read More »from Revisiting Ranji
  • Confessions of a veteran stone-waller

    Saurashtra’s Shitanshu Kotak on his 20-year journey grinding domestic attacks.

    Shitanshu Kotak — "If I had done the NCA coaching course as a player, I would have played for India"When one watches Shitanshu Kotak bat, it is clear that he is a batsman who is not in a hurry. Bow-legged, and with an on-field gait that sees his shoulders move up and down. Kotak shows the bowler his stumps as he runs in, before shuffling in, back foot moving to cover off, middle and leg. Front foot moving in the direction of the ball.

    By his own admission, he is better when he plays down the ground, and on the leg-side. The off-side is neither a strength nor a weakness. He does whatever it takes to stay at the wicket, and will stay there at any cost. His idea is simple, the longer he stays at the crease, the more he frustrates the bowler. You heard it from the grinder.

    That’s his style, and he doesn’t care about what other people think.

    After 20 years in First Class cricket, the 40-year-old opening batsman Kotak has seen the Ranji Trophy format change, has travelled around the country and the world, thanks to the game of cricket, which in his own words, means everything to him. He

    Read More »from Confessions of a veteran stone-waller
  • Ranji Trophy: Saurashtra end 75-year wait

    Saurashtra walloped Punjab by 229 runs to seal their spot in this year's Ranji Trophy final.

    The Saurashastra squad celebrates after defeating Punjab. (Skandan Sampath, Yahoo! Cricket)


    Day 4 | Day 3 | Day 2 | Day 1

    Rajkot: “Boys. We have made it to the Ranji Trophy finals”, said Jaydev Unadkat at the team huddle, before the entire team began hooting and cheering. And, why not. To dismiss a team before lunch, and to win by 229 runs, is an achievement.

    But not bigger than making it to the Ranji Trophy final for the first time in 75 years.

    When the bell rang to announce the start of play on the final day. Mandeep Singh and Ravi Inder Singh made their way to the crease and started well. Unadkat was guilty of bowling short, and Mandeep had no trouble pulling him away to the fence. It was clear that a day five pitch would have something for the spinners, and when the hosts brought them on, the Punjabis began to fall apart. Without offering a fight.

    At 09:45 AM, Mandeep Singh got into deep trouble, when he decided to offer his front pad to Vishal Joshi. What he didn’t fathom was the turn. The ball went through his legs to hit the stumps. As he walked off, Mandeep knew that it Read More »from Ranji Trophy: Saurashtra end 75-year wait
  • One big final day for Saurashtra and Punjab

    Ranji Trophy semi-final: Punjab need 304 runs, Saurashtra eight wickets on Day 5.

    Rajkot: Cricket is a game, where the feeling of deja vu rules.

    Lady Luck had decided to watch the match from Saurashtra's dressing room on day three. One day later, she decided to reward Punjab for their hard work in the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy semi-final on day four, at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium.

    At 102/1, the hosts had moved on, after losing opener Sagar Jogiyani to Bipul Sharma's guile. Shitanshu Kotak carried on, doing what he does best. Blocking and driving, and testing the bowler's patience, as he has been doing for the last twenty years.

    Kotak was helped in part by Harbhajan Singh, who dropped the left-hander when he was four runs away from a half-century. The veteran had Rahul Dave for company for about 19 overs, before Punjab skipper Harbhajan Singh sent the latter indoors.

    The Saurashtra opener, who requested Mandeep Singh to wear his shades, behind his head, saying it was distracting, would go on to celebrate a half-century. Saurashtra's captain Jaydev Shah then

    Read More »from One big final day for Saurashtra and Punjab
  • A partnership that scores

    Hemali and Sejal are quite the game-changer.

    Hemali Desai (L) and Sejal Dave-Mehta (R) in Rajkot. (Photo: Skandan Sampath/Yahoo! Cricket)

    Inking his own story | Saurashtra vs Punjab | Delhi Diary

    Jiya re, Jiya re, Jiya re, Jiya


    This is the song from Jab Tak Hai Jaan that Hemali Desai hums as she sits on her chair at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium in Rajkot. On one table right behind a mirror, are two laptops, a walkie-talkie, printer, a TV set and a clock. Alongside is her colleague Sejal Dave-Mehta, 23, who just recently got married to a finance professor. These two ladies are the scorers for the 2012-13 semi-final match between Saurashtra and Punjab.

    They are always busy. And, boy, do they multi-task.

    So much so, that this interview had to be taken during the lunch break at 12:00 PM - voices over a walkie-talkie were calling them over for lunch. But they delayed the meal, to oblige Yahoo! Cricket's request for a peek into their lives, which by their own admission is tedious and enjoyable at the same time.

    While Hemali has played cricket as a wicket-keeper for Gujarat, Sejal is a hockey defender. A right Read More »from A partnership that scores
  • Saurashtra thrive on Punjab's mistakes

    Ranji Trophy semis: Saurashtra take a giant step towards final.

    Rajkot: A new ball taken after a sip of tea can help a team renew itself. Ask Saurashtra.

    Uday Kaul took off for a run that didn't exist. His partner Taruwar Kohli in fact was in fact applauding his partner's forward defensive stroke, with the bat above the head, when he realised that he had to run. By the time the striker made a botched attempt to dive into the crease, Siddharth Trivedi had sent the ball into the stumps. Why Kaul called for the run is a question only he can answer.

    This wicket triggered the collapse.

    Kohli followed his partner home off the very next ball, trying to pull a delivery off Jaydev Unadkat, that only ended up as a top-edge in Shitanshu Kotak's hands in the slips. Bipul Sharma struck a four, before edging the ball to Aarpit Vasavada in the slips, off Trivedi.

    Makvana, Jackson fortify Saurashtra
    Saurashtra and Punjab share honours
    Mumbai vs Services: Rain plays spoilsport


    Then Unadkat removed Amitoze Singh, celebrating his second wicket, by completing his follow

    Read More »from Saurashtra thrive on Punjab's mistakes
  • Inking his own story

    RANJI SNAPSHOTS — Saurashtra's Sheldon Jackson loves his tattoos as he loves making big scores.

    Sheldon Jackson“Debu Mitra sir has played the biggest role in my career.  He has worked really hard on my game. Even, after the match, he asks me to shadow practice. Tells me ki yeh karna hai. My mindset has changed a lot”.

    This quote is from Saurashtra batsman Sheldon Jackson, who struck 107 against Punjab in the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy semi-final in Rajkot.

    Jackson is brown eyed, is shy and reserved, and needed prodding to open up to Yahoo! Cricket on his journey so far as a cricketer. The 26-year old from Bhavnagar bats within himself,  and has his size 9 boots firmly on the ground, as he basks in the glory of his third first class hundred in front of a crowd that also had chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil in attendance.

    “I am happy for getting a ton. One doesn’t get hundreds everyday. Hope it will help the team”. But life wasn’t easy.

    Jackson lost his father when he was 10. Off the three tattoos that he sports, the one on his left is dedicated to his father Philip and mother Sederene. Like most

    Read More »from Inking his own story
  • Makvana, Jackson fortify Saurashtra

    RANJI TROPHY SEMIFINAL: Punjab 41-0 in response to the home team's big score.

    Sheldon JacksonRajkot: Harbhajan Singh opened the bowling for Punjab on a cold morning, and Siddharth Kaul operated from the press box end. Sheldon Jackson took off from where he left on day one, making full use of the deliveries pitched on driving length. The 26-year old went on to play a nice-looking cut shot to get to his third First Class century. His helmet came off, and onto the left hand, bat in the other, eyes fixed on the dressing room. A celebration that was duly acknowledged by his mates in the dressing room, amidst the cheers of the schoolchildren below the pavilion.

    Jackson’s joy was shortlived as bete noire Siddharth Kaul sent one swinging in, and with the feet stuck at the crease, the ball had no trouble saying hello to the stumps. It was an act of redemption for Kaul, for he had the right-hander caught off a no-ball towards the end on Day 1. Non-striker Kamlesh Makvana, whose batting elegance can be mistaken for that belonging to Wasim Jaffer, got his eye in, bringing up his fifty with

    Read More »from Makvana, Jackson fortify Saurashtra
  • Saurashtra and Punjab share honours

    RANJI TROPHY SEMIS: Jaydev, Jackson revive Saurashtra against the Harbhajan-led Punjab.

    Harbhajan had the lone wicket of Saurashtra stonewaller Kotak. Rajkot: The Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium looks like a home after a wedding. Ladies still cleaning up the stands, five days after it hosted the first India-England ODI, as the five-day semi-final between Saurashtra and Punjab got underway with the eerie echo of ‘Come on boys!’ hitting the concrete in the stands. To not see a spectator at an Indian cricket stadium is a sad spectacle. A first-class reality yet to be ‘tested’. But life goes on, as Jaydev Shah won the toss, and asked his batsmen to pad up along with Punjab wicketkeeper Uday Kaul.

    The bell rang, announcing the start of play, and umpires Chettihody Shamshuddin and Robert Bailey, the only Men-in-Black pants, made their way to the ground. Punjab’s field was set just as trains whizzed past like whistling caterpillars in the background. Sandeep Sharma who was seen measuring his line up with tape before the game, took the new ball. Openers Sagar Jogiyani and Shitanshu Kotak were keen to stay at the crease, but Siddharth

    Read More »from Saurashtra and Punjab share honours

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