'Zero for Five' reflects Pravin Amre's approach to life

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | May 14, 2024 IST

Pravin Amre

New Delhi, May 14:He is a man of few words. Loves to work silently and let his actions reveal his abilities.

Right from his playing days either for Mumbai or Team India, or during his long career as cricket coach, Pravin Amre has always proved his mettle as a worthy performer. His book 'Zero for Five' narrates and depicts what he a strong and committed character he has been both on and off the field.

He takes you to the flashback. An atmosphere of disbelief began to set in the Mumbai dressing room during the second innings of their 2006/07 Ranji Trophy semi-final against Baroda at the Moti Bagh Stadium. Despite Mumbai taking a 91-run first-innings lead, their second innings began in a nightmarish fashion, which literally left them in an unprecedented situation.

With Sahil Kukreja, Wasim Jaffer, Hiken Shah, Rohit Sharma and Amol Muzumdar falling for ducks, Mumbai’s scoreboard read as zero for five. It soon became 17 for six with Abhishek Nayar’s fall, leaving Pravin Amre, the former India and Mumbai batter, in his first season as the side’s head coach, searching for heroes who would step up to rescue the team from this huge trouble.

Amre's call was answered by Vinayak Samant, who made 66 off 136 balls and found support from Wilkin Mota's 33 off 74 balls and Nilesh Kulkarni amassing 17 off 105 balls in a defiant fight back and take Mumbai to 145. In defence of 237, Mumbai bowled out Baroda for 173 and win by 63 runs to enter the final. Eventually, they beat Bengal to lift the Ranji Trophy for the 37th time.

Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Amre's book is aptly titled 'Zero for Five', which is a refreshing change from phrases or cricketing terminologies mainly used as titles of cricket-authored books. "As a player or coach, there are some games which are very important for your career. This was one of those games – I remember it came in my first year of coaching Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy in 2006/07.

"I was the head coach then and had a very bad start by losing first three games and we had to win every game from there, otherwise we would have been relegated. We came back by winning all games outright to play the semi-final against Baroda at Moti Bagh Stadium. On a fine day, we were zero for five and as a coach, I felt it was the toughest situation for me to handle that,” said Amre in an exclusive conversation with IANS on the sidelines of the book launch in national capital, which had Ricky Ponting, Sourav Ganguly and James Hopes in attendance.

Amre, who made 103 off 288 balls on Test debut against South Africa at Durban in 1992, believes his book is also about bringing out the never-say-die attitude associated with Mumbai. "This book is also about how the Mumbai team bounced back – all credit goes to the players who handled the situation well. The partnership between Vinayak Samant and Wilkin Mota, also Nilesh Kulkarni batted well and got us some runs on the board.

"After that, we bowled well to win the game. We all enjoyed being there in the final and it was also Rohit Sharma’s first year in the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team. Then, we beat Bengal in the final, where Sourav Ganguly was also playing, and won the Ranji Trophy.

"Though I have been coaching in the IPL for around 15 years, this game against Baroda was a very important game for me to get the belief that I can be good at coaching. Also, it's all about the belief that you can come back from anywhere, like how we were at zero for five," he added.

In 2014/15 Ranji Trophy season, there was a sense of déjà vu for Amre and Mumbai when the side lost to Jammu and Kashmir, followed by Railways taking a first-innings lead against them. But Mumbai’s trademark fight back attitude helped them enter the semi-finals, where they lost to eventual champions Karnataka.

"If 2006/07 season was Rohit’s debut year, then 2014/15 season was Shreyas Iyer’s debut year. We did very badly in that game to lose to Jammu & Kashmir – I remember the news about it even spread in Parliament. But then Mumbai cricket is also having that culture of senior players coming to help the team.

"After that game against J&K, I remember calling Sachin Tendulkar as the team was so down. So I wanted someone to motivate the team and Sachin came for the Mumbai Ranji side after one phone call. He spoke so well to everyone in the team and that year, we went to the semi-finals.

"In Mumbai, it’s not just the coaches – even the senior players contribute a lot for the team’s cause – like Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Sachin – they all are very keen, keep Mumbai cricket close to their heart and think about contributing to their success,” stated Amre, who played 11 Tests and 37 ODIs for India.

From coaching Mumbai in domestic cricket, Amre is now the assistant coach of IPL side Delhi Capitals, where he’s been since 2016 and also dabbled into scouting. He also had stints with Pune Warriors India and Mumbai Indians in the IPL, as well as with Seattle Orcas at the Major League Cricket (MLC) in the USA.

He observes a huge difference between coaching a domestic side and an IPL franchise. "It’s so different – like in the franchise cricket, there are different nationalities and players. As the Mumbai head coach, it was so easy to go and motivate the team, but here its different as so much hard work is involved at the franchise level. I am just very fortunate to work with Sourav and Ricky here in the IPL."

IPL 2024 has seen the Impact Player rule being a big talking point, especially with batting scores resembling towering heights of sky-scrapers in metropolitan cities. But Amre has a different take on it.

"That’s good for cricket as ultimately people want to see boundaries and sixes coming. Even a Ricky Ponting or Sourav Ganguly mentioned about the importance of power-hitting because the ability to hit sixes is going to help a lot. Nobody thought that in 40 overs of an IPL game, more than 500 runs will be scored.

"So, it’s good; cricket is improving, people are interested and every team is so good, like they can beat anybody, which is the beauty of IPL. I am sure BCCI’s technical committee will be there (to look into the rule’s future), because whatever good is to be done for the IPL, they will continue to decide in that way."

He was also affirmative in the proposal of the U23 CK Nayudu Trophy doing away with the toss. "There are so many times where home advantage is there and the whole purpose behind BCCI promoting all of this is to get match-winning players. Sometimes the toss matters in when the good players are getting. So, they wanted to do that and see how the players benefit from it and take the teams to the next level."

In his extensive association with cricket, first as a player and now as a coach, apart from being a scout and selector, Amre has rarely sounded emotional. But being asked about DC skipper Rishabh Pant, who he identified as a promising youngster for the franchise, Amre's soft-spoken voice bears a trace of emotion.

"I was so genuinely happy from the bottom of my heart on seeing him return to the game at Mullanpur, as it was really tough, not just for Rishabh, but also for any other cricketer to return after being away from the game for nearly 18 months.

"We have to give credit to Rishabh in how he has fought back to make a comeback to the game as a winner. Not only in batting, he’s also kept wickets and is the leading run-getter for Delhi Capitals in this season. I really wish him all the best for the (T20) World Cup."

Amre signed off by being glowing in his words for Jake-Fraser McGurk and Abishek Porel, the two young batters DC unearthed this season. "We need to give credit to our scouting team as the duo have the talent which is really very rare, to be honest. They have worked well in this format and proved themselves with their strike-rates, which is ahead of others."

Like Amre, his trainees or cricketers coached by him often love to maintain a low profile and allow their performances to speak. One of them is Mumbai veteran Ajinkya Rahane, who has led Team India. (With IANS support)

    Tags
  • Team India
  • Indian Premier League (IPL)
  • Delhi Capitals
  • IPL 2024
  • Pravin Amre

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