Mumbai win 42nd Ranji title to end eight-year wait

India

Mumbai 224 (Shardul Thakur 75, Yash Thakur 3-54, Dubey 3-62) and 418 (Musheer 136, Iyer 95, Dubey 5-144) beat Vidarbha 105 (Rathod 27, Kotian 3-7, Kulkarni 3-15) and 368 (Wadkar 102, Nair 74, Kotian 4-95, Musheer 2-48) by 169 runs

Mumbai broke Vidarbha’s resistance on the fifth afternoon and secured their 42nd Ranji Trophy title and first since 2015-16. Spin-bowling allrounder Tanush Kotian and fast bowler Tushar Deshpande crushed Vidarbha’s dream and dismissed them for 368, in an unprecedented chase of 538, after captain Akshay Wadkar and rookie Harsh Dubey had played out a wicket-less morning session.
Fittingly, it was veteran Dhawal Kulkarni who sealed victory for Mumbai in what was his last game for them. With his captain Ajinkya Rahane and the Wankhede crowd warmly cheering him on, Kulkarni bowled Umesh Yadav to give himself a winning send-off. Having picked up a fourth-innings five-for in his first Ranji final, against Uttar Pradesh, back in 2009, Kulkarni signed off as a bona fide domestic stalwart for Mumbai.
He leaves Mumbai’s attack in the safe hands of Deshpande, who bullied Vidarbha with around-the-wicket bouncers on the fifth day and Mohit Avasthi, who was Mumbai’s joint-highest wicket-taker this season with 35 strikes in eight games. Avasthi wasn’t available for the final because of injury, with Kulkarni taking his place.

Kotian, who finished the season with 502 runs and 29 wickets, earned the Player-of-the-tournament award. It was Kotian who cracked the game open for Mumbai on the final day when he got one to straighten from around the wicket and pinned Wadkar lbw for 102 after lunch. Soon after, Kotian knocked Yash Thakur over to hasten Mumbai’s victory.

Earlier in the morning, Wadkar and Dubey had made Mumbai stretch every sinew for a breakthrough. Wadkar, in particular, was either right forward or right back to dead-bat Mumbai’s spinners. Dubey was more adventurous at the other end, unleashing slog sweeps against left-arm fingerspinner Shams Mulani. One such slog sweep over wide long-on, off Mulani, helped Dubey move towards his second first-class half-century in his eighth match.

Kotian could’ve cut Dubey’s innings short on 13 had Mumbai reviewed an on-field not-out decision after the offspinner had struck him on the pads. The tracker indicated that the ball would have crashed into leg stump.

Dubey survived lbw appeals on 17 and 18 off Kotian and Kulkarni respectively. He kept Wadkar good company in a 130-run partnership for the sixth wicket.

Wadkar brought up his – and first of the season – when he tapped Kotian through extra-cover for a single. He sank to his knees and put his arms up in a prayer before taking in the applause from the friends and families of the Vidarbha players.

The celebrations were short-lived for them as Wadkar and Dubey fell in successive overs. Aditya Sarwate, who was nursing back spasms walked out to bat at No.8, but Deshpande bounced him out for 3. Deshpande hit speeds upwards of 140kph and continued to pepper the lower-order batters with short balls.

Kulkarni then took the final wicket and led Mumbai off the field. At the post-match presentation, Rahane hailed Kulkarni’s off-field contributions to the Mumbai team, too, and handed him the trophy to cap off a dream finish.

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