Vidarbha lifted their second successive Ranji Trophy title with a hard-fought 78-run win over Saurashtra in the final of the 85th edition in Nagpur on Thursday.

Vidarbha needed five wickets to defend their title while Saurashtra, in a chase of 206, were left a mountain to climb after a top-order collapse on Wednesday. They required 148 runs for their maiden title on the fifth and final day at the VCA stadium.

“Everyone thought it was a fluke when we won last year and we were under pressure to retain the title. But our focus was process, we never bothered about reputations,” Vidarbha’s talismanic coach Chandrakant Pandit said after the triumph.

The fiercely-fought final swung back and forth early on but Vidarbha went into the final day with a tight hold on the proceedings and bundled out the visitors for 127 with more than two sessions to spare.

Overnight batsmen Vishvaraj Jadeja (52) and Kamlesh Makvana (14) batted resolutely for the first 30 minutes and a bit more, but once that partnership was broken, the end was inevitable for Saurashtra.

Man-of-the-match left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate claimed three of the five wickets that fell on Thursday, to end with career-best match figures of 11/57. He took 6/59 in the second innings.

It was his maiden haul of 10 or more wickets in a first-class match.

Sarwate, without doubt, was the star of the match for Vidarbha as he not only took 11 of the 20 Saurashtra wickets with his left-arm spin, his 49-run knock in the second innings played a key role in his side setting the stiff 206-run target.

Here are some statistical highights from Vidarbha’s triumph in Nagpur:

  • Wasim Jaffer now has 10 Ranji Trophy title wins to his name, with eight for Mumbai and two for Vidarbha. Only Ashok Mankad and Ajit Wadekar have been on the winning side more times.

  • Jaffer, who earlier became the first player in the history of tournament to reach 1000 runs in a season two different times, is also undefeated every time he has appeared in the Ranji Trophy final.

  • Coincidentally, February 7 is now a day of two ‘Perfect 10s’ in Indian cricket. Anil Kumble took all 10 wickets against Pakistan in 1999 while, in 2019, Jaffer made it 10 wins out of 10 Ranji Trophy final appearances.

  • Sarwate became the first man since the legendary BS Chandrasekhar in 1977/78 to register a five-wicket haul in each innings of the Ranji Trophy final.
  • This was also Sarwate’s maiden 10-wicket haul in first class cricket.

  • Vidarbha is only the sixth team in the tournament’s long history to have defended the title. Mumbai, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Delhi are the other teams who have managed to win consecutive titles. Saurashtra had ended runners-up to Mumbai in 2012-13 and 2015-16 and again it was a case of so close yet so far for them.

  • The title for Vidarbha was the 45th in Ranji Trophy for a team from the state of Maharashtra.

(With PTI inputs)