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Update Amit Pagnis appointed Mumbai coach for upcoming season
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[Image: amit-pagnis-was-appointed-as-t.jpg]

The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) on Thursday (December 17) appointed Amit Pagnis as the coach of the Mumbai team for the curtailed 2020-21 domestic season, which will kick off with the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy from January 10, 2021.

Pagnis was appointed for the job by the Cricket Improvement Committee (CIC), led by former India opener Lalchand Rajput after CIC's first choice, Sulakshan Kulkarni, for the second year running, turned down the offer to coach Mumbai considering that his term would end on March 31, 2021, meaning it would last just three and a half months.

Speaking to TOI, Pagnis said: "I feel good. It's definitely a big responsibility. I have a short time to prepare the team, but it should not be a big problem, because some of the boys in the Mumbai team played in the IPL. Having been a part of the system (he was the Mumbai under-23 coach for two years and was the batting coach at the MCA's BKC academy last season) for the last few years, I know most of the boys well. I understand that the team hasn't done too well in the last two seasons, but that doesn't matter. It's about how we do this season. I'm confident that the team will put up a good show."

On Wednesday, the MCA had named Pagnis' former teammate, pacer Salil Ankola as the senior team's chief selector. "I'm looking for my 'reunion' with him. He was my teammate at Sungrace Mafatlal in the 90s," Pagnis said.

Meanwhile, Kulkarni, a former Mumbai wicketkeeper, had coached Mumbai to the Ranji Trophy title in the 2012-13 season. In an e-mail to all the Apex Council members of the MCA and the CIC on Wednesday, Kulkarni wrote: "Respected sir, it is absolutely surprising to find your email/ offer today mentioning the recommendation of the CIC, informing my candidature as the Mumbai coach for such a short period of three months. I'm extremely delighted and honoured that the decorated CIC considered me capable to coach the Mumbai Ranji team."

Citing the perils of being offered the job for such a short period, Kulkarni has written: "However, with the theme of improving the reputed Mumbai team and in the backdrop of its recent performance, (which is) not in commensurate to its past high standards including the past legacy, the time frame fixed to improve or expect a great performance is very insufficient."

Kulkarni stressed that it would be difficult for him to prepare the Mumbai team for domestic cricket at such a short notice. "While greatly appreciating the faith reposed on me it will be extremely tough for me to derive greater excellence from players at such short notice with (only) a few days' preparation prior to the commencement of the BCCI first-class season which is expected to begin from January 2021 and end in March 2021.

"Hence, as a former player and coach of the Mumbai Ranji team, I express my gratitude to the CIC, the MCA and its officials for considering (me) as a coach. However, such a short duration (of his appointment) and my pre-commitments, restrict my options to accept such a high-profile job of coaching for now. As always, (I'm) committed to serve the game of cricket," he concluded.

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