Monday, August 28, 2017

Tuti Patriots Dream TNPL run

Two Early Buys that has paid off handsomely 
We saw Washington Sundar as a complete Package for T20 and hence he was our 2nd pick right after Dinesh Karthik – Head Coach Madanagopal 

In the inaugural TNPL auction in 2016, two reasonably ‘non-star’ status players were picked up very early by Tuti Patriots. While all the focus on Tuti’s dream run this year has been on Washington Sundar (and his opening partner Kaushik Gandhi), not many know that Washington Sundar was the 2nd Pick for Tuti Patriots in the inaugural TNPL auction in 2016 right after Dinesh Karthik and ahead of Abhinav Mukund and L Balaji, two star international players, who were picked subsequently in that inaugural auction by Tuti Patriots. 

 J Gokulakrishnan had as the state U19 coach worked closely with Washington Sundar as a young 15 year old boy. Kaushik Gandhi, who Madanagopal had worked with closely in the past on the opener’s batting technique and mental aspects was another early pick by Tuti in that inaugural auction last year. 
These two relatively unknown names were big and surprising calls made by Madanagopal and Gokulakrishnan and did not quite catch the attention at that time and largely went unnoticed. But by the end of TNPL 2, these ‘surprising early picks’ by Tuti’s coaches have become the biggest names of the TNPL!!! Kaushik Gandhi heads the batting aggregate over the two years of the tournament with over 600 runs while Washington Sundar topped the batting aggregate in season 2 with over 450 runs ( in addition to picking up 15 wickets). He has already played in the IPL and made a big impression there. 

These two big calls made dominant contributions in several wins for Tuti Patriots over the two seasons. While Kaushik Gandhi’s performance in the knock out phase last year helped them to the tournament win, Washington’s all round performance was the primary reason for Tuti Patriots to have the dream run this year till their loss at the final hurdle (when he failed with both the bat and the ball). 

TNPL was touted as a stepping stone for young talent. It was that that Madanagopal and Gokulakrishnan seized with both Washington and Kaushik. While Washington was raw, Kaushik was on a low after being unceremoniously dropped from the TN state team by the B Kalyanasundaram led TN Selection Panel despite a good show in the initial phase of his Ranji Career about 5 years back but the Tuti coaches saw in them, both, a huge amount of talent waiting to express itself on the big arena. 

The Washington call – A Complete ‘T20’ Package 
Madanagopal is delighted that their call to pick Washington ahead of many other big ticket players has been testified with his star all round performance “We spotted in him the unique value he could bring to the team. He was a tall left hander who we knew could strike the long ball with ease. He has long levers and his off spin in the shorter formats is quite extraordinary given the fact that he can bowl both in the power play and death.’

 ‘To top it, he was also a top fielder with the ability to field anywhere. We saw him as a complete package and that was the primary reason for us to choose him immediately after Dinesh (Karthik).’
 ‘Low on Confidence’ Kaushik Gandhi 
Having watched Kaushik Gandhi closely for a long time, Madanagopal knew exactly what his strong points were and the value that he could bring at the top of the order ‘Picking Kaushik at the top was a no brainer for us, having watched him play in earlier years. As you can see now, he has really grown in confidence after his performance in the first edition of the TNPL, one that was reflected in his Ranji performance last season.’ 

His performance in season 1 of TNPL gave him the much needed visibility and it was his solid match winning performance in the TNPL that led him back into a permanent slot in the Ranji team, one that had eluded him earlier ‘Kaushik is a very smart cricketer who understands the game flow and is very good at executing his roles. He is a captain’s delight and brings a lot of positivity to the change room.’ 

Dressing Room atmosphere 
 Madanagopal recounts as to how the entire coaching staff as well as the captain Dinesh Karthik focused on creating a positive atmosphere both on and off the field and encouraged the boys to express themselves and play fearless cricket while at the same time learning from their mistakes. Tuti team analyst Rama Subbu played a key role providing important feedback to the coaching staff on the players. Physio Sakthi, who also is the physio for one of the India Cements teams in the first division league, and Masseur Iyappan worked tirelessly on the players’ fitness right through the tournament ensuring that the players maintained top fitness levels till the very end. 

While the fans only see the on field performance, Madanagopal revealed some of the back room work that actually led to this tremendous run this year,We had several rounds of discussion in the change rooms. We encouraged active participation from the players in these discussions and the collective knowledge and information that came out was just amazing and this helped formulate the strategy for this season.” 

Stand in Captain Anand and his pivotal role 
Gokulakrishnan is full of praise for the ‘stand in’ captain Anand Subramanian. With both Abhinav and DK were away from the TNPL in the initial phase, we spent several hours discussing the captaincy issue and finally agreed on Anand. It was Gokulakrishnan who had a long chat convincing him to take up the captaincy.

Looking back on his captaincy and the dream run of Tuti, Gokulakrishnan says ‘Anand played a pivotal role both on and off the field generating many ideas that worked for us. He not only came up with important cameos at many crucial moments but also led the team brilliantly till the time Dinesh Karthik took over.’ 

 Madanagopal says that the entire focus in those team meetings was to reiterate repeatedly that Tuti was not a team about individuals but one where every individual selflessly strives for the common cause. This culture was set up by the captain and the players. This was something that Madanagopal had also imbibed in the teams that he coached in the first division over the last few years. 

In addition to the success on the field over the two years, Madanagopal says that the one thing that he is proud about the team is that Tuti had one of the best off field camaraderie at all times. And this reflected in the performance on the field. Every individual made an important contribution at some stage in the tournament. 

Every Player contributed 
‘The satisfaction for me as a coach comes from seeing under rated players such as Akash Sumra and Ganesha Moorthi evolving as star performers over the course of the two seasons. Players like SP Nathan, who can be a clean striker, too contributed at important moments and contributed to the success of Tuti. Aushik Srinivas has not got the credit he has deserved for his performances in the TNPL. There had specific roles assigned to each and every player in the team. In that scheme of things, rarely did Aushik and Akash let us down in these two seasons as they kept it tight most of the time.’ 

'Challenging Times' to a 'Dream Run'
Just ahead of TNPL 2, the very participation of Tuti Patriots had been in doubt with a lending bank seeking an injunction on their very participation on the issue of a pending payment. CEO of Tuti Patriots Sudarshan and Manager Madhusudhan ensured that the team stayed away from such distractions helping the players and the coaching staff focus on the cricketing activities in those important few days leading to the start of the tournament. 

A month later, Head Coach Madanagopal and Bowling Coach Gokulakrishnan left together for the glamorous TNPL final at Chepauk last Sunday evening with the elder brother riding a ‘not so glamorous’ old two wheeler. But that’s the way they have always lived cricket- Simple, hard working cricketers focusing on giving their best to their team in the role that they have been engaged for.
Very rarely during the tournament did you find them in front of the cameras (which anyway seemed intent on focusing all the time on VB Chandrasekar and his family as well as some of the more renowned names with international tags!!!). The brothers sat way behind in the dugout focusing purely on their role as the coaches away from the visibility of TV interviews. The real reward for their unflinching commitment to the team has been the two finals that the team has managed to achieve in successive years. And that’s all that matters to these ‘down to earth’ brothers.

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