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Friday, 14 December, 2018

I will continue playing for Goa, so long as I perform: Sagun Kamat

05th December 2018, 04:12 Hrs

BASIL SYLVESTER PINTO  

PANAJI  

Landmarks might just be another stat in sport, but it also serves an indication of the endeavour of the sportsman to strive for the better in his performance and for that of his team. One such milestone, by one of the great servants of Goan cricket went largely unnoticed in the last Ranji match that Goa played. 

Goa Ranji captain and top-order batsman, Sagun Kamat may have made only 13 in the second essay against Jharkhand at Porvorim on December 1, but in the process completed an exact 5,000 runs in First Class cricket. The milestone was achieved only once previously by another cricket icon of Goa, Swapnil Asnodkar (5883 FC runs).   

With Goa reeling at 29/4 in the aforementioned match, the stylish left-hander was required to deliver big time with the support of his talented younger team-mates to save the match. Sagun Kamat started well, playing with intent from the outset and struck a delightful early boundary as well. But his innings was cut short to just 21 deliveries which promised much more. Only a delivery prior to his dismissal, Kamat middled the ball for a delectable two to reach the 5000 First Class runs milestone. When the 85-First Class veteran failed to read a ball spinning into the rough and going off to clip the bails off debutant slow-left-arm Rahul Prasad’s special, the team not only faltered further at 40/5 but had the writing on the wall.   

Heavy defeats when your team is in a good position twice and fails to seize the initiative are particularly harder to digest. More so, when you are the senior-most player in the side and the captain, expected to lead from the front.  

While failures and successes are part and parcel of every sportsperson’s life, grit and determination to put his team ahead of himself reflects through in the composite analysis of Sagun Kamat’s career; the batsman, a born leader.   

Speaking exclusively to this paper on becoming only the second Goan to notch up 5000 First Class runs, the elegant southpaw batsman felt good on a journey that has yielded fruition from the beads of sweat accrued from the hours spent under toil. Sagun Kamat may have not had impressive numbers in his debut game in the 2000/01 season against Karnataka in Bangalore making 28 and 11, but progressively he grew to be one of the stalwarts of Goan cricket through the imagery of his classy batsmanship and consistency. “I feel really happy on completing 5000 First Class runs. It has been a long journey and I hope I can get runs in the coming season as well as I have been playing well for the State,” the Verem-based cricketer stated.   

Talking of his most memorable match, immediate as would come to any connoisseur of Goan cricket would be his masterful triple hundred, the first and only (till date) by any batsman turning out for the State team. 

“The unbeaten 304 (453b, 662m, 39x4, SR: 67.10) against Services (in Cuttack) two years back is particularly memorable as it is something I never dreamt to achieve in First Class cricket,” he proudly said. He also picked out two other daddy hundreds for special mention. “Against Himachal Pradesh, in Dharmashala I made 169 when our side was reeling at 17/4 under difficult conditions. In another match, against Kerala at CCI, Mumbai two years ago, I made 159 in the fourth innings. The wicket was turning and we required 340 odd, and we fell short by 40 runs when bad light stopped play. I think that year we were playing well as a team,” he recalled.   

Playing Services at home from December 6, a side he has registered his First Class best against and a State record to boot, could serve as the antidote that could see him deliver the big score that could motivate the side from their embarrassing seven-wicket defeat against Jharkhand at home last week. Unwilling to quite subscribe to the thought, he did agree the fond memory of the triple hundred against the opposition could give him a slight edge going into the match. “As a batsman, every day is important. I have to start from scratch and play on the merit of the ball without worrying on the results,” he asserted.   

At 35, Kamat looks at his future as positively as he does at his present playing domestic cricket at the highest level. “I think it all depends on my performance. It is important for me to respect the game. Until and unless I am batting at my peak, I will continue playing for the State. If I think I am playing to survive as a batsman, I would give it up,” he matter-a-factly said.   

Looking at the Gen Next cricketers of the State, he stated that they are a talented bunch but need to aim higher. “Goan cricketers are very talented. But if you think of only playing Ranji cricket, you will reach nowhere. They have to look at going to the next level,” Kamat revealed.