Indore: Fairytale endings aren’t uncommon in sports. Underdogs Leicester City won the coveted English Premier League title in the 2015-2016 season. There’s Aizawl FC, who emulated that same feat in the Indian football arena, where they won the I-League against all odds last season. Now, it is Vidarbha, who have had a magical ending to this year’s Ranji Trophy season, where against all expectations, they have trounced the seven-time Ranji champions Delhi to win their maiden title in 84 years at the Holkar Stadium on Monday.
Fuelled by Akshay Wakhare and Aditya Sarwate’s spin magic, the Faiz Fazal led side first skittled Delhi for just 280 in their second innings after which the experienced Wasim Jaffer helped Vidarbha win the final by nine wickets and become the undisputed rulers of Indian domestic cricket for the very first time.
It has been a perfect team effort from Chandrakant Pandit’s side who have performed well as a unit all throughout the season. As a matter of fact, their captain-Faiz Fazal led from the front with 972 runs from nine matches at an average of 70.15. He ended as the second highest run-getter in the season, after Karnataka’s Mayank Agarwal who scored 1160 runs.
“Really worked for the trophy. A fairytale. Months of training has paid off. The bowlers did really well in the first innings and that set the tone for us. Thakare had some nerves but bowling the first over settled the nerves. I also wanted Gurbani to bowl the second over. This is really a team-effort and I am thankful to the boys, Chandrakant Pandit and Subroto Banerjee. We were working towards it all along, and we have finally achieved it. I didn’t start off that well with the bat but I got 5 hundreds in five games after that. I enjoyed the company of Sanju (Ramaswamy), ” said Fazal after the win.
Having ended the third day at 528/7 with a lead of 233 runs, Vidarbha were bowled out for 547 runs which meant that Delhi had to cancel out a 252-run lead to make Fazal and co bat again. But they could only score 280 which meant that just 29 runs stood between Vidarbha and history and although Fazal departed early, Jaffer ensured that the dream that they had been chasing was finally achieved.
There were many heroes for them in this match. First it was Rajneesh Gurbani, who carried on with his good form from the semis and took a hat-trick, ending with six wickets in the first innings where Delhi made 295. Next, it was Akshay Wadkar’s turn to stand up and make an impact as he made 133 crucial runs to help Vidarbha maintain their dominance. Wakhare and Sarwate took four and three wickets respectively to restrict Delhi to just 280 and the rest is history.
Vidarbha 547 all out and 32/1 (Wasim Jaffer 17 n.o, Sanjay Ramaswamy 9 n.o; Kunal Khejroliya 1/21) beat Delhi 295 all out and 280 all out (Nitish Rana 64, Dhruv Shorey 62; Akshay Wakhare 4/95) by nine wickets.