Defending champions Vidarbha were crowned winners of the 85th Ranji Trophy edition, beating Saurashtra by 78 runs in the summit clash in Nagpur on Thursday.
Set a target of 206, Saurashtra folded for 127 in 58.4 overs, giving Vidarbha their second title triumph in the country’s marquee first-class tournament. Left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate was the star for Vidarbha, claiming six wickets in his 24 overs in the second innings. He had picked up 5/98 in the first innings.
Star India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who played a stellar role in India’s maiden Test series triumph on the Australian soil last month, could not come good for Saurashtra and was dismissed cheaply in both the innings.
Saurashtra, who fought admirably despite that, could not produce another lower order fightback as Sarwate, along with Akshay Wakhare, wrapped up the match for Vidarbha in the first session. Vishvaraj Jadeja was the sole bright spot for Saurashtra in the second innings, but he once he fell after his half century, it was a matter of time before Vidarbha completed a repeat of their 2018 feat.
Here are the reactions to the win from Vidarbha players and coach.
Wasim Jaffer (who won his personal 10th Ranji Trophy):
Absoloutely great [feeling to win the trophy again]. Playing 10 finals is not a small thing and winning all 10 is special. When I came to Vidarbha, I never thought I will play another Ranji Trophy final, two wins in two is outstanding. [On carrying on] I enjoy playing cricket. I missed a couple of years due to injury and when I came back [Chandrakant] Pandit (also former Mumbai coach) became coach of Vidarbha and brought me here and gave me a lot of confidence. I enjoy playing cricket and I want to keep doing that
Chandrakant Pandit, Vidarbha coach
It’s very important. When you win once, it could be fluke. Many people told me that you will have to do it again. There was pressure to retain the title but we just focused on the process and not think too much about retaining the title. Mindset was worked on after first three games [when Vidarbha had just two points on board]. We saw a lot of videos of our last year performance and we believed in ourselves and once we get the momentum it was important to keep going. It’s important to get support from the Association and selection committee. In the last two years we have kept about 12 experienced players and given chance to youngesters with and eye on the future.
Umesh Yadav, India pacer who played a vital role in the knock-outs
The way Vidarbha has been playing for the last 3-4 years we knew that once these players get experience we would be challenging for the title. The way [Akshay] Wakhare and [Aditya] Sarvate bowled this season has been special. We have been champion for two years. It has given us an identity and now people know the region also well. Few years back, people asked where is Vidarbha. Now, they know which part of Maharashtra we come from. Hopefully the players will get the recognition needed.
The support staff has done a great job in ensuring that big team. It’s a big achievement for Vidarbha. The way support staff handled all the players and helped them was really good. The youngsters have gained a lot of maturity over the years and we would like to keep it going.
Akshay Wakhare, who took seven wickets in the final
Some people said first [Ranji Trophy title] was a fluke. Maybe this is second fluke, so I am really happy.
Aditya Sarwate, player of the match in the final
It was a terrific final. I would like to congratulate the Saurashtra team for coming this far. They (team management) are always there for us. [About the pitch] In the second innings it was difficult to rotate the strike but the idea was to bat long and let the pitch deteriorate. The runs [I scored] with the tail were crucial.
Faiz Fazal, Vidarbha captain
It feels unreal. Behind all this there is a lot of hard work from each and everyone. It is different, first time is always special but we had to work really hard this season. The whole team have worked hard in the off season. Really happy with the entire season but more happy with the way we played this final. Can’t thank them enough, each and every member of the support stuff has been incredible. They give us everything and make our life comfortable. Lucky charm maybe (talking about captaincy). Hopefully I continue for a few more years.
(With inputs from Cricbuzz)