Ranji Trophy 2017: How Vidarbha toppled Delhi to create history
A close look at the key moments of the final day's play in the Ranji Trophy season.
Vidarbha created history and won their maiden Ranji Trophy title beating Delhi at Holkar Stadium in Indore. Vidarbha had to wait for some time before holding the trophy. But, the wait was totally worth it.
It has been a beautiful story. A story where no one has played the lead character but everyone has contributed. Different characters played important roles at different junctures. Everyone loves to talk about fairytales or underdogs winning a major title. This was one such fulfilling chapter in the history of India's premier first-class tournament.
Delhi’s lower order batsmen ensured Vidarbha had to come out and bat again. Fittingly, the experienced Wasim Jaffer hit the winning runs to seal his new state team's first Ranji Trophy title. There were remarkable scenes on the ground.
Let us relive the events of a day which will be etched forever in Vidarbha's cricket history.
Vidarbha take massive first-innings lead
Vidarbha started the day at 528/7. Khejroliya once again got the wicket of Neral on a no ball. However, his entertaining innings didn’t last long after the last reprieve and ended on 74 when he edged one to wicket-keeper who collected an easy catch. Saini was the bowler who broke the 132 runs partnership.
Wadkar, in his bid to add some quick runs, tried to play a big shot and ended up hitting the ball in the air and got out. He walked back to the pavilion and received a thunderous applause from his teammates.
Saini removed number eleven Aditya Thakare and completed the second five-wicket haul of his First-class career. When the first innings of Vidarbha ended, they were in a dominating position with a huge lead of 252 runs. Wadkar had played a match-defining innings in company of Sarwate and Neral. The partnerships of 169 runs and 132 runs ensured that Vidarbha would have a firm grip over the match.
Delhi lose openers early in their second innings
If Delhi had to make a match of it, they first needed to wipe out the massive deficit of 252 runs and then set a decent target. Also, they had to score these runs very quickly. Kunal Chandela flopped for the second time in the final. He went for an audacious shot against the off-spinner Wakhare and mistimed it.
Gautam Gambhir on the other end was looking very fluent. Vidarbha's plan of attacking the left-handers stumps was ineffective as he played some good shots on the leg side. He took a special liking to Gurbani.
However, Gurbani persisted with the line attacking the stumps and bowled another fuller ball. Gambhir missed it and the ball rapped him on the pads. He was unlucky to be given out as the replays indicated that the ball might have been drifting down the leg side.
Rana and Shorey play attacking cricket
Rana made his intentions clear when he hit Gurbani showing full face of the bat for a boundary. Rana then got another streaky boundary with an edge. Rana dealt in boundaries and took his chances. He got a chance when he was dropped at short leg off the bowling of Wakhare.
In Neral’s first over Jaffer dropped a tough chance of Shorey. The partnership started flourishing as both the batsmen looked to play positively and freely. Shorey looked good against the spinners and showed the confidence of his first innings.
Rana continued to ride his luck when he flashed hard and the ball went over Fazal at first slip just eluding him at the last moment in Neral’s fifth over. Shorey then hit him on the leg side for four. He then hit a back-foot punch through the offside for another four of the over. On the next ball, Shorey hit the fourth consecutive boundary of the over.
Both Shorey and Rana completed their fifties. Runs came thick and fast. Wakhare was brought to contain the flow of runs.
Thakare who was bowling a probing second spell induced an edge but Jaffer dropped another in the slips. Thakare may not have got any wicket in that spell but he impressed with his accuracy. Sarwate who was a tad expensive in the first innings then got rid of Shorey, who looked good for another hundred.
Fazal realized the importance of attacking the new batsman Pant and brought back his strike bowler- Gurbani to take the wicket. However, Pant smashed the fast bowler for a huge six out of the ground. That humongous hit made Pant’s message loud and clear- he was not going to hang back and allow Vidarbha dictate terms. In the last over before tea, Rana flirted with the ball just going away from him and edged it to wicket-keeper.
Wicket just before the tea set it up nicely for Vidarbha.
Vidarbha march towards victory
After tea, Himmat didn’t last long and was bowled. He played down the wrong line and missed a straight ball from Wakhare. Pant continued to take on the opposition and play aggressive shots.
Neral was brought into the attack. Pant was lucky when he miscued a shot and the ball fell in no man’s land. To add insult to bowler’s misery, the ball went to the boundary. On the very next ball, he attempted a similar shot, trying to hit it on the leg side, miscued it and Wankhade took a comfortable catch running from gully.
Wakhare then removed Manan Sharma and Saini to hasten the Delhi's downfall. It looked like Vidarbha will win the match by an innings. However, the partnership between Vikash Mishra and Akash Sudan took Delhi past Vidarbha’s lead of 252 runs. It meant Vidarbha had to come out and bat again. Aditya Sarwate ended the frustrating stand when he enticed Mishra for a big shot and was stumped. Sudan was dismissed in the same over itself to bring an end to the innings.
Ramaswamy and Jaffer then completed the formalities and knocked down the target of 29 runs quite easily to record a famous win for Vidarbha.