Baroda, chasing an impossible 375 runs in 29 overs on the fifth and final day after Rajasthan were bowled out for 341, were 28 for four when both captains decided to shake hands, sparking celebration among Rajasthan players. Rajasthan had made 394 in their first innings and bowled out Baroda for 361 for a decisive 33-run lead.
After his good performance in the first innings, young fast bowler Deepak Chahar turned up the heat in the second innings as well taking three Baroda wickets, extracting menacing swing and bounce from the fifth day track. Chahar finished with a match-haul of seven wickets. It was a sensational performance by Rajasthan, who came from the Plate Division. The minnows shocked 39-time winner and defending champions Mumbai in the quarterfinal and beat favourites Tamil Nadu in the semifinals.
Chahar, who made a dream debut this season taking eight wickets in an innings and bowling out Hyderabad for the lowest team total of 21, played a major role in Rajasthan’s victory. The 18-year-old took 40 wickets in nine matches (Avg-21.17) and formed a lethal combination with the experienced Pankaj Singh, who claimed 43 wickets (Avg-21.74)
Also, three veterans of domestic cricket — Aakash Chopra, Hrisikesh Kanitkar and Rashmi Ranjan Parida — who were roped in from Delhi, Maharashtra and Orissa respectively lend solidity to Rajasthan batting. Skipper Kanitkar led with example scoring 744 runs in nine matches with four centuries and two half-centuries. Chopra, who left Delhi this season, contributed 734 runs, including an unbeaten triple century against Maharashtra. Parida, who was declared the man-of-the-match of the final, racked up 607 runs. Kanitkar, who played for Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra before switching to Rajasthan this season, was elated with the win. “I really can’t believe we have achieved this. It is something special. I have played much cricket, but this is certainly one of the highlights of my career,” he said. “It was an honour to play with these guys. It is more satisfying that we played well as a team. It is a big achievement for us. The strength for us that we played as a team. Even the players who did not play in the final contributed in a big way in the earlier matches,” said Kanitkar.
In the final against Baroda, Rajasthan were in control of the final right from the start, scoring 394 in the first innings and bowling out the hosts for 361 for the crucial lead. The only time they were in trouble was when Baroda, spurred by some brilliant bowling by paceman Murtuja Vahora (4-94), reduced them to 11 for three in their second innings. But Rajasthan found saviours in Parida (89) and Ashok Menaria (101), who shared an 165-run alliance for the vital fifth-wicket, taking the game away from Baroda.
Resuming their overnight stand, Parida and Menaria added another 25 runs before the latter was dismissed after completing a match-winning century. Parida soon joined him in the dressing room. But wicket-keeper Rohit Jhalani (43 n.o) and Pankaj (24) and taking the score past 300.
RAJASTHAN (I Innings): 394 all out in 147.1 overs
BARODA (I Innings): 361 all out 137.3 overs
RAJASTHAN (II Innings, O/n: 201/4): Aakash Chopra lbw Vohra 5; Vineet Saxena c Shah b Vahora 0; Hrishikesh Kanitkar c Williams b Vahora 1; Robin Bist c Waghmode b Bhatt 22; Rashmi Ranjan Parida lbw Bhatt 89; Ashok Menaria c&b Waghmode 101; Madhur Khatri b Vahora 18; Vivek Yadav c Devdhar b Vahora 13; Deepak Chahar c Devdhar b Swapnil 11; Pankaj Singh b Karambelkar 24; Rohit Jhalani (not out) 43; Extras (B-11, LB-1, W-2) 14; Total (all out; 129.1 overs) 341.
Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-6, 3-11, 4-61, 5-226, 6-232, 7-258, 8-265, 9-282.
Bowling: Murtuja Vahora 28-5-94-4, Sankalp Vohra 14-4-35-1, Bhargav Bhatt 45-8-117-2, Swapnil Singh 19-10-33-1, Aditya Waghmode 18-7-34-1, Kedar Devdhar 1-0-2-0, Abhijit Karambelkar 2.1-0-9-1, Ambati Rayudu 2-0-5-0.
BARODA (II Innings, Target: 375): Jaikishen Kolsawala c Jhalani b Pankaj 13; Kedar Devdhar c Saxena b Chahar 5; Aditya Waghmode c&b Chahar 4; Swapnil Singh c Chopra b Chahar 2; Abhijit Karambelkar (not out) 2; Ambati Rayudu (not out) 2; Total (4 wickets; 14 overs) 28.
Fall of wickets: 1-14, 2-18, 3-21, 4-24.
Bowling: Pankaj Singh 7-2-13-1, Deepak Chahar 7-2-15-3.