BENGALURU: In the last Ranji season, Vidarbha’s Rajneesh Gurbani was one of the breakout stars. His exploits with the red ball earned him 39 wickets from six games including five five-wicket hauls. The right-arm medium pacer was the second-highest wicket-taker after Jalaj Saxena (44).
In the quarterfinal against Kerala, he bagged four wickets in as many overs. This was just the beginning. In the semifinal against Karnataka, he picked up 12 wickets, including a career-best 7/68 in the second innings. And he kept up that hot streak with a hat-trick in the final against Delhi to lead Vidarbha to their maiden title.
In the process, he became the only second bowler to bag a hat-trick in the Ranji final after Tamil Nadu’s B Kalyanasundaram. He also delivered in the recently concluded Duleep Trophy, where he bagged nine wickets in two games for India Red including a 7/81 bowling figure against the India Green team.
“Before the start of the last Ranji season, I told myself ‘you have to do something so that people recognise you’. I did it. But it doesn’t end there. You have to keep performing. I’m working hard and trying to do that,” the 25-year-old said.
Despite doing well in the longer format, Gurbani didn’t have a good season with the white ball. In the Vijay Hazare Trophy last year, he got only seven wickets in four matches and five in five matches in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
In the two games he has played in the Vijay Hazare so far, Gurbani has taken just one wicket. “I don’t believe I’m just good with the red ball. Yes, I’m more comfortable with it as I get more swing and it lasts throughout the day. And in the 90 overs, I get more time to use my variations and I get more help. But I love to play all three formats and I’m trying to do well in the limited-over formats as well,” he said. “Despite bowling well, getting no wickets frustrates me. But I’m being patient and I know if I continue to bowl well, wickets will come.”
After the aforementioned Ranji season, he made it to the India A side too. But his performance there was average. While another pacer in the India A setup, Mohammed Siraj, is racking up wickets, the Nagpur man has had a steep leaning curve.
“We both know we are in contention for a spot in the national team. Once VVS Laxman told me that the only competition I had was with myself. I had to do better than I did last day. So, I’m focussed on that.”