Avdoot Dandekar selected for Maharashtra group B Ranji team

Engineering's loss was cricket's gain for Avdoot Dandekar. The 22-year-old Puneitte has been included in Maharashtra's Ranji Trophy squad for the group B match against Vidarbha in Nagpur on Saturday. Dandekar, who scored two consecutive hundreds for the state's under-22 in the Colonel CK Nayudu Trophy, believes that this is a reward for his exploits with the bat.

"The season did not really start well for me. I wasn't even in the squad for the first CK Nayudu game and I thought this was another year where I would not make the team. However, in the practice matches after the first game, I managed to score heavily and secured a place in the side," he said.

Dandekar's heavy scoring in the practice matches included three 100s in five innings.

He managed to tally 470 runs at a stupendous average of 94 and he carried on this form for the under-22 side in his very first game against Orissa, slamming a fluent 120 runs which helped Maharashtra post a commanding first innings total.

"That hundred was very important, it secured my place at the level. Even when I was playing club cricket, I scored heavily but those runs weren't giving me confidence. Against Orissa, I started with two cover-drives and the confidence that those two shots gave me was incredible," he said.

He followed up his ton against Orissa another one against Tamil Nadu in the next game. Dandekar also played a very important role in the second innings, scoring 64, which helped Maharashtra set a challenging target and was enough for an outright victory.

Dandekar, who lives right next to Deccan Gymkhana, says that he took cricket for granted. "My house is so close to Deccan that I can just jump over the fence and enter the ground. I started playing when I was 11 and haven't stopped," he said. He had taken a year off to prepare for his Class X board exams. "I was selected in the probables for the Maharashtra u-15 squad but didn't make in the final team. I

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