Ganesh Chandrasekaran in Indore • Last updated on Sat, 30 Dec, 2017, 09:19 PM
Gurbani finished with a six-wicket haul. © BCCL
Yesterday he suffered an ankle injury, that kept him off the field for a long while. But Rajneesh Gurbani knew then that this was too big a match to miss out on. He was back on the field in the final session on the first day but didn’t bowl. But his thoughts were already driven towards the immediate future.
“I was preparing from yesterday to be on the field so that I can bowl the first over today.. I was preparing myself all night so that I could bowl the first ball,” says Gurbani. “I knew that if I bowled well then the team could possibly win.”
But the success that he was aiming for overnight didn’t come immediately. He bowled six fruitless overs on the second morning but continued to run in hard for the seventh. He was now getting used to being that strike bowler for Vidarbha. Against Karnataka, on the last day of the semi-final, he had bowled 8.1 overs on the trot to lead Vidarbha to victory. This was similar. The pace today (in the late 120s) was slower from the semi-final owing to the ankle twist but the recovery time overnight helped him last longer.
But when it all finally clicked, creating a marvellous mess of cartwheeling stumps, Gurbani was unstoppable. Landing outside off, zipping in sharply, cutting through the right-handers and away from the left-hander, he lapped up four wickets in just seven balls including that hat-trick.
“I was already intent on taking a wicket off every ball, my plan was always to bowl at the wickets,” says Gurbani.
A natural outswing bowler when he started off, the four wickets that he took today was a result of dedicated practice to get the ball to move the other way too. It was his coach in college, who had first suggested that he should be trying to move the ball both ways. Starting off then and continuing to polish it under Vidarbha’s bowling coach Subroto Banerjee, Rajneesh saw it come to fruition again.
Watching his exploits at the Holkar Stadium in Indore was a loyal following of a few hundred people that throng around the cricketers. Unlike many other grounds in India, this one allows the fan to be as close to the action as possible. Calls for selfies, light-hearted sledges audibly echo all across the ground constantly. And one such call alerted Gurbani to the hat-trick today.
“I got the first and second wicket off the fifth and sixth ball. So when I was about to bowl the next over in my run-up, someone from the public shouted ‘hat-trick ball’. So I realized it then, to be frank,” revealed Gurbani. “But I was still thinking ‘bowl it on the stumps. Hat-trick is another matter’.”
The spell doesn’t ensure Vidarbha of a victory yet, but it will help Gurbani rest easy from other worries for a while.
“Obviously, a fast bowler’s dream is to take a hat trick and a five-wicket haul in a final. It’s a special feeling…,” he trails off with a satisfied smile.
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