Azim Kazi eyes IPL contract based on Maharashtra Premier League performance

New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Ratnagiri Jets captain Azim Kazi is gearing up for the second consecutive Maharashtra Premier League (MPL) final after a spectacular season. The left-handed batter is the leading run-getter for the franchise in the ongoing edition with 281 runs in 11 games including a half-century and a strike rate of 105.64.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, Rizvi shared his thoughts on his performance in the league, the impact of the league on Maharashtra cricket, and how Ruturaj Gaikwad has been a constant support to the youngsters.

Q: How would you sum up your team’s performance in the ongoing Maharashtra Premier League?

A: We want to finish the tournament on a high. We want to continue our momentum. We have no pressure of playing the successive finals. We followed our process throughout the season. Our focus from the start was to continue on last year’s momentum.

Q: How has your team fared in the tournament?

A: Everyone has performed well throughout the season including me. I think if one player is helping you in winning one or two matches out of 10 then it is best in franchise cricket. In the knockout match (Qualifier 1), it was a team performance as players clicked on the right time. All are experienced players and they know when to click at the right time.

Q: Who do you think are the promising talents in the league and will have a great future ahead?

A: First of all, I would like to thank the Maharashtra Cricket Association for giving us such a huge platform to showcase our talent as players can express themselves with matches being live-streamed on JioCinema. There are many youngsters who are performing well overall. In our team too, Kiran Chormale, Abhishek Pawar, Sachin Dhas, Arshin Kulkarni, Om Bhosale, Mehul Patel, and Murtaza Trunkwala have performed well.

The MCA has created the best platform as players have been waiting for this opportunity for quite a long. Since the last year, Maharashtra cricket has suddenly changed under President Rohit Pawar. The invitation matches and age group matches have also increased. The MPL has given motivation to players, and they aim to play in the league.

Q: Ruturaj Gaikwad had aggressively celebrated your dismissal against Puneri Bappa. Did you have a chat with him after the match since you both are good friends?

A: It is good that he is showing his aggression as people always say he is very calm. It was an entertainment for everyone. Last time, when he got run out I showed my aggression. Now, he did it against me. Individually we talk to each other. He has a different mindset and we talk about batting with him. He gives us inputs on our batting. We try to get as much batting knowledge as we can from him.

Q: Does Ruturaj Gaikwad share his learning with youngsters in the tournament?

A: Yes, he talks to youngsters and give them detailed input. He never tries to cut short the conversation with anyone. He always shares valuable learnings with young players on how they can approach and improve their game. After the MPL matches, youngsters go to him and have conversations.

Q: You missed the IPL contract last year, so do think it is a platform for you to get into IPL?

A: Yes, it is a big platform for everyone. 150 players are participating in the tournament but all of them do not play state and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. It is a very big platform as IPL scouts are also coming to see us. One impactful inning can bring you in highlight. Last year, Arshi hit a century and he bagged an IPL contract. So, definitely, 100% one big performance can hand you an IPL contract.

Q: Last year, your performance was not consistent but you have been in form this season. What did do behind the scenes in the off-season?

A: Before the start of the MPL season, we had a lot of time to prepare. We had a 40-day camp before the season where we touched on batting, bowling, and fielding. It has yielded results for us. This year, we have 10 matches to be consistent compared to five matches last season.

Q: From your team, who do you think will have a great future ahead in the league?

A: Satyajeet Bachhav has been the leading wicket-taker for Maharashtra for three years across formats. But last year, he didn’t have a great season in the MPL and Ranji too. This year, he is the leading wicket-taker with 21 wickets. He is our best bowler in the tournament for us. Kiran Chormale is very talented and has potential.

He is doing well in fielding and batting. We had picked Abhishek Pawar as the second wicketkeeper last year but in practice games, he performed so well and created his spot in the team. He is performing in every match.

Q: How is the team’s morale after entering the final for the second consecutive time?

A: The team’s morale is very high. We don’t celebrate until we lift the trophy. So, we’ve kept the best for the final. We’ll follow our process and execute our plans. We’re not thinking about the opponents but we’ll plan according to our opponents.

–IANS

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