BENGALURU: Shiv Sunder Das holds a special place in Odisha cricket history. He is the second player, after Debashish Mohanty to represent India from the state. The former India opener replaced Mohanty, who was the coach for six seasons, as the new coach. He feels nothing has gone their way this season.
Odisha lost two and drew four in the Ranji Trophy this season while their performance in the ongoing Vijay Hazare has not been commendable. Such results did not come as a surprise if one learns the condition of this sport in Odisha.
The state lacks the infrastructure to groom talented players. Das explained why Odisha is not able to compete against the big teams of the country.
“Honestly, we are behind other states in the country. Talent-wise, we are good, but we do not have that infrastructure, where we can play more tournaments. Every year we play only KSCA tournament and Buchi Babu. Odisha does not have league structure. So we mostly play 20 and 40 over cricket. Most of the guys don’t play longer formats. It is a tough task for them going to Ranji without prior practice. But we are trying to change the system and play a lot of games this year,” said Das.
The team also faced the problem of not fielding the best XI, as some players missed the domestic tournament due to personal commitments. With second-string players, the coach couldn’t do much. For instance, in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, vital players like Biplab Samantray and Govinda Poddar had to miss their match against Karnataka. They had to represent their companies in some other competition. Such kind of scenario is a big blow for a team like Odisha, which does not have many quality players in their ranks. Das feels players should not miss such opportunities, where they can impress selectors to at least make it to the India A team.
Das, though, who is new to coaching a senior side, has some experience in training junior players. He has previously worked with young cricketers at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
After having spent one season with the team, he has some plans for them. Most importantly, Das wants his players to play more matches. “It is a learning experience for me. This is the first time I am coaching a state side in domestic tournaments. It is a good experience for me as I get to learn a lot from playing against teams that are very competitive,” Das said.
But he is confident that things will change for Odisha sooner than later. “Next year the goal will be to play a lot of matches and involve youngsters from U-16 and U-19 and find good talent.”
Group B: Kerala 261/9 in 50 ovs (Rohan 66 n.o, Karthick 54; Multan Khan 4/43) bt Uttar Pradesh 141 in 39.2 ovs (Warrier 3/32, Akshay 3/32).