Ranji Trophy 2019-20 | Reliving the star-studded final of 2006-07 when Bengal faced Mumbai

Sachin Tendulkar hit a 100 in the first innings
Sachin Tendulkar hit a 100 in the first innings
Aakash Arya

There's no denying that it has been a long wait for Bengal cricket to make a mark since they last reached the Ranji Trophy final. 13 seasons of its fair shares of failures, disappointments, and controversies. But now they are in the final. Going over the toughest hurdle of defeating the double defending champions Karnataka, who were gunning for a third consecutive domestic title. The semi-final victory, therefore must have tasted even sweeter.

A sensational final campaign takes us back to the 2005-06 and the 2006-07 season when Bengal last made the Ranji finals. Uttar Pradesh took the title based on the first-innings lead in 2005-06, while Mumbai thrashed Bengal by 132 runs the following year.

Zaheer Khan starred with a 9-wicet haul
Zaheer Khan starred with a 9-wicet haul

The Indian cricket scenario has gone through a major upheaval since Bengal's last final. The emergence of the cash-rich IPL, three ICC titles for the senior men's team in 2007, 2011 and 2013 under skipper MS Dhoni and the infamous Lodha committee recommendations. Mumbai added four Ranji more titles in the time being if no one noticed.

However, the good thing coming out of Bengal's long-awaited final appearance is the emergence of some rusted scorecards which can give any Indian cricketer jimjams.

A prolific cricket analyst and commentator now, Bengal captain in the 2006-07 season Deep Das Gupta's decision to field first brought smiles to the faces of the Indian crowd who had flocked in to watch the Mumbai stars in action. A jam-packed stadium at the Wankhade Stadium was greeted with two quick wickets by Ranadeb Bose. But what followed next was a Mumbaikar's fantasy and an average cricket fan's dream.

Wasim Jaffer was solid in both innings
Wasim Jaffer was solid in both innings

Mumbai cricket's two favourite sons, Sachin Tendulkar and Wasim Jaffer enthralled everyone witnessing the match with some exquisite stroke-making that included textbook cover drives, effortless glances down the leg-side and confident leaves, with both scoring centuries on the first day itself. Adding to the two heavyweights were Rohit Sharma and Amol Mazumdar who gave further solidity in the middle order. In the bowling department, Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan, and Romesh Powar formed the main threat to the Bengalis.

From the opposite end was another force filled with an equal amount of experience and threat. As a young Manoj Tiwari was coming up the ranks and making headlines, cricketers like Sourav Ganguly were in search of a final reckoning on the Indian side through some domestic runs. It hadn't been much time after Tendulkar and Jaffer's masterclass, that Zaheer Khan produced a spell of a lifetime, dismissing Ganguly for a first-ball duck. Khan bowled for 11 overs straight, claiming a five-for to remember and dismantling the opposition for 149 in the first innings.

Sourav Ganguly led the Bengal side to the finals
Sourav Ganguly led the Bengal side to the finals

Jaffer, Sharma, and Tendulkar built-on the first-innings lead but Bose's nine-wicket haul gave Bengal a sniff. As Ganguly, Tiwary, Gupta, and Gavaskar aimed for the impossible, a 472-run target, Khan proved to be a thorn again, claiming a four-wicket haul to complete his nine wickets in the match.



1st innings 320 (Tendulkar 105, Jaffer 112) Bose 4/77

2nd innings. 294 (Sharma 57, Jaffer 53) Bose 5/71


1st innings 143 (Tiwary 42, Sarkar 25) Khan 5/40

2nd innings 339 (Tiwary 94, Ganguly 90) Khan 4/119

Mumbai won by 132 runs

The win for Mumbai was a statement. A statement that re-defined and re-assigned the power status of Indian cricket through their 37th Ranji Trophy title.

As of the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season, Bengal face Saurashtra in what seems like a potential thriller between two of the best four-day domestic teams of the country this year.

Edited by rehaan díaz


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