It all started with the icon of a WhatsApp group. A picture of the famed Ranji Trophy was the profile picture of the group formed for communication within the Vidarbha team at the start of the season. The players peeped at ambition encircled on the top left-hand side of the phone screen every time it beeped. At the outset, not everyone was convinced about what they saw.
Subroto Banerjee laughs when he tells the story. Along with Chandrakant Pandit, whose reputation as a successful coach keeps growing every year, and senior players like Wasim Jaffer and captain Faiz Fazal, Banerjee, the bowling coach, was convinced that the team was ready for something special. He knew they could win the trophy. So was Pandit, who in July had startled Prashant Vaidya, the former India player and current vice-president of Vidarbha Cricket Association, by asking “how will the prize money be shared?”
So was Jaffer, who had gone around telling anyone who cared to listen that something really special could be achieved. “We had really talented seamers, good spinners, solid batsmen, and I would keep saying that we can do really well this season.” Something in Fazal told him that this could be the greatest domestic season of them all. That he could be lifting the cup.