Ranji Final: Mumbai ends eight-year drought to clinch 42nd title

Mumbai, March 14 (IANS) The eight-year Ranji Title drought ended for Mumbai as they beat Vidarbha by 169 runs on day 5 of the final to clinch their record-42nd championship title, here at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.

The performance of bowlers was led by veteran Dhawal Kulkarni who was playing his farewell match, Mumbai’s victory was a fitting tribute to Kulkarni’s legacy of excellence in domestic cricket.

Mumbai’s spin-bowling allrounder Tanush Kotian and fast bowler Tushar Deshpande emerged as the architects of Vidarbha’s downfall, dismantling their batting lineup and dismissing them for 368 in an unprecedented chase of 538.

Despite the valiant efforts of Vidarbha’s captain Akshay Wadkar and rookie Harsh Dubey, who had defied Mumbai’s bowlers in a wicket-less morning session, thanks to a 130-run sixth-wicket stand between Akshay Wadkar and Harsh Dubey, leaving 290 runs needed off the last day in their 538-run chase.

Wadkar was the first wicket to fall on day five as he plumbed in front of the wicket by Kotian. The 102-run knock of Wadkar kept Vidarbha in the contest but after he got out it was all Mumbai’s game.

However, their collapse in the next few overs put an end to Vidarbha’s hopes of winning a third First-Class title. With the ball, Tanush Kotian shone, taking four wickets, including the legendary Wadkar. Deshpande took two wickets at the end of the day.

Fittingly, it was Kulkarni, the stalwart of Mumbai cricket, who delivered the final blow, bowling Umesh Yadav to seal victory and bid farewell to his beloved team in style. With his captain Ajinkya Rahane and the adoring Wankhede crowd cheering him on, Kulkarni’s emotional send-off marked the end of an era, as he departed as a true domestic legend, having played a pivotal role in Mumbai’s cricketing legacy.

As Kulkarni passed the torch to the next generation of Mumbai’s bowling attack, Deshpande emerged as a formidable force on the field, unleashing a barrage of around-the-wicket bouncers to bully Vidarbha’s batsmen and pave the way for Mumbai’s triumph. Alongside him, Mohit Avasthi, Mumbai’s joint-highest wicket-taker of the season, stood as a testament to Mumbai’s depth and talent, despite his absence due to injury in the final.

While the absence of Shreyas Iyer, sidelined with a back complaint for the second consecutive day, posed a challenge for Mumbai, it did not deter their quest for domestic dominance. With a blend of experience and youth, Mumbai reaffirmed their status as cricketing powerhouse, reclaiming the Ranji Trophy crown.

Brief scores:

Mumbai 224 & 418 all out in 130.2 overs (Musheer Khan 136, Ajinkya Rahane 73, Shreyas Iyer 95, Shams Mulani 50 not out; Harsh Dubey 5-144, Yash Thakur 3-79) beat Vidarbha 105 & 368 all out in 134.3 overs (Akshay Wadkar 102, Karun Nair 74; Tanush Kotian 4-95, Musheer Khan 2-48) by 169 runs.

–IANS

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