Avdoot Dandekar selected for Maharashtra group B Ranji team
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"The season did not really start well for me. I wasn't even in the squad for the first CK Nayudu game and I thought this was another year where I would not make the team. However, in the practice matches after the first game, I managed to score heavily and secured a place in the side," he said.
Dandekar's heavy scoring in the practice matches included three 100s in five innings.
He managed to tally 470 runs at a stupendous average of 94 and he carried on this form for the under-22 side in his very first game against Orissa, slamming a fluent 120 runs which helped Maharashtra post a commanding first innings total.
"That hundred was very important, it secured my place at the level. Even when I was playing club cricket, I scored heavily but those runs weren't giving me confidence. Against Orissa, I started with two cover-drives and the confidence that those two shots gave me was incredible," he said.
He followed up his ton against Orissa another one against Tamil Nadu in the next game. Dandekar also played a very important role in the second innings, scoring 64, which helped Maharashtra set a challenging target and was enough for an outright victory.
Dandekar, who lives right next to Deccan Gymkhana, says that he took cricket for granted. "My house is so close to Deccan that I can just jump over the fence and enter the ground. I started playing when I was 11 and haven't stopped," he said. He had taken a year off to prepare for his Class X board exams. "I was selected in the probables for the Maharashtra u-15 squad but didn't make in the final team. I
was very disappointed and my father had convinced me that I should study engineering rather than play cricket. It was only because I did not secure admission in an engineering college of my choice that I gave cricket another shot," he said.
The 22-year-old, who also doubles up as wicketkeeper and can bowl reasonable medium-pace, is nervous but excited with the Maharashtra call-up.
"Obviously, I am nervous. The Ranji Trophy has some of the best players in the country and I would love to make my mark in this format. Also I have batted on challenging tracks and also for long periods of time this season. Therefore, I am confident that if given a chance, I can show what I am capable of," he said.
Dandekar, who already has 294 runs to his name in C K Nayudu trophy at an average of 58.8, is hoping that he gets to walk out on Saturday morning at the VCA stadium in Nagpur wearing the treasured Maharashtra Ranji cap.
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