Ravi Savant is a taskmaster. Maybe chartered accountants are like that — calculative, not ‘cool’. But Monday was different. Moments after presenting the Ranji Trophy to Ajit Agarkar, posing for pictures, giving out hugs and accepting handshakes, the Mumbai Cricket Association president paid a visit to the dressing room. What transpired in the sacred confines of the players’ territory is not clearly known, but when the 50-something official and his colleagues stepped out into the open, they were literally bathed in a heady — and smelly — concoction of champagne, lassi, ketchup and smashed bananas!
Savant, dressed in a jet-black pair of trousers, crisp pinstripe white shirt and shiny black shoes, resembled anything but a ‘respectable’ man 20 minutes later! “It’s a mad house up there,” exclaimed an official. “Abhishek Nayar managed to sneak in a pot of lassi and he’s going berserk. Antidote? Who cares! “Even Sachin Tendulkar is having a ball,” said another. The master was apparently spraying champagne all over his teammates, singing, dancing and what not.
The noise levels in the Mumbai changeroom more than made up for the silence in the adjacent one occupied by visitors Saurashtra. A little later, a few visiting players positioned themselves right outside the door leading to the biggest ‘party hotspot’ in Mumbai and Tendulkar obliged by stepping out, giving them a pep talk and posing for pictures.
Earlier, Saurabh Walkar, the team’s rotund video analyst, did his own version of Gangnam Style right in the middle of the ground. That, perhaps, set the tone for the remainder of the party, expected to continue well into the night. The venue is a top secret!
Trainer Amogh Pandit, wicketkeeper Aditya Tare, batsman Suryakumar Yadav all made their way out at some point of time and they all smelt alike! “I am not going to tell you anything,” Tare, richer by 41 victims behind the stumps after this campaign, said. “It’s crazy.”
BCCI general manager Ratnakar Shetty, MCA vice-president Vinod Deshpande, joint-secretary Nitin Dalal, team manager Shrikant Tigdi were also not spared the players’ ‘torture’ methods. The city’s cricket fraternity resembled one big happy family on Monday. Savant, who had eased Shetty out of the MCA by beating him in the presidential elections not so long ago, was seen having a pleasant one-on-one with his bete noire. It was a day of celebrations, not rivalries.
Savant also found time to make an announcement, a good one at that. “The prize money provided by the BCCI is Rs 2 crore. The MCA has decided to match that and also give something extra. In all, we will present the team Rs 3 crore,” he thundered. That’s a lot of money! “Also, Sachin Tendulkar has told us that this money should be distributed among the junior members of the side. So that’s a fine gesture,” Savant added before assuring the media that Mumbai’s U-16 (Vijay Merchant Trophy champions) and U-19 (playing the Cooch Behar Trophy final) teams would also be rewarded adequately. “We want them to earn a place in the senior team. So we won’t give them so much money,” he joked.
The MCA is supposedly in the doldrums financially, but Savant obviously knows his math. Moreover, the players deserve what they are getting. As many as 10 members of the 15-strong squad had just won their maiden Ranji Trophy title. A heady mix of youth and experience. No wonder Tendulkar wants them to be recognised.