Sulakshan Kulkarni to coach Chattisgarh in Ranji

Known for possessing a khadoos (doughty) and dedicated ap proach when they played the game, for mer Mumbai cricket ers are always in de mand by other teams in domestic cricket. The latest to join the bandwagon is the newest Ranji Trophy side in India -Chhattisgarh, who’ve signed up former Mumbai wicketkeeper Sulakshan Kulkarni as their coach for the next three seasons.
Kulkarni coached Vidarbha from 2009-2011 before taking over the reins of Mumbai from 2011 to 2014. Mumbai clinched their 40th Ranji Trophy title under him in the 2012-13 season, when they beat Saurashtra in a one-sided final at the Wankhede Stadium.
“I’m happy to be back in the Ranji Trophy again as a coach. I will enjoy helping develop a team like Chhattisgarh, which would play in the Ranji Trophy for the first time” Kulkarni told TOI on Friday from Raipur. “We had received applications from many coaches, some of whom are former players. Kulkarni has a good track record with Vidarbha and Mumbai, and our committee felt he would be the ideal man to coach our boys, who’re talented, but need his guidance and `polishing’ since they lack experience at the Ranji level. We want to do well in our maiden Ranji appearance,” said Chhattisgarh State Cricket Sangh (CSTS) secretary Rajesh Dave.
Kulkarni would take charge of his new ‘wards’ from Saturday itself, with the launch of a camp of 30 ‘probables’ in Raipur. The captain of the team has not been named as yet. “It would’ve been nice if the people of Chhattisgarh were able to see their team play in the Ranji Trophy for the first time, but then we can understand that the Board’s decision to play the Ranji on neutral venues this season is good for domestic cricket,” felt Dave.
Chhattisgarh, whose teams had been doing well in the Under-23, U-19 and U-16 tournaments for the past few years, was promoted to `Full Membership’ from `associate’ by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in February’s Special General Meeting this year. “Six players from Chhattisgarh, including Jalaj Saxena and Harpeet Singh Bhatia, represent the Madhya Pradesh team, since it plays in the Elite division, but a few of them have come back to us because we’ll be playing in the Ranji from this season onwards,” said Dave.
Chhattisgarh has been plagued by Naxal problems in the past, and cricket, Dave felt, may help in solving it.”We want to attract the youth towards cricket, so that they don’t get distracted by such things. Currently , we have eight grounds capable of hosting First Class cricket in the state, apart from the stadium in Raipur.”

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