A Seven-Star Triumph Indeed!

A Seven-Star Triumph Indeed!

Team work the key as Vinay Kumar’s men humble Maharashtra in the final to notch a memorable success

It was only fitting that Manish Pandey was in the middle when Karnataka emerged triumphant to lift their seventh Ranji Trophy.
Four seasons ago, the right-hander slammed one of the best ever centuries in the long history of Indian domestic cricket but he couldn’t finish off the job as Mumbai managed to pull off a thrilling six-run victory in the 2009-10 Ranji Trophy final in Mysore. Sunday’s seven-wicket victory over Maharashtra on the last day of the Ranji Trophy final here at the Rajiv Gandhi international cricket stadium was a moment of redemption for the right-hander. And by extension, for the entire Karnataka squad. 

“The hurt was there for a long time,” said skipper R Vinay Kumar, recalling the defeat to Mumbai. “I always used to tell Manish that if only he had played on, instead of getting out when he did, we would have won before tea. When he got out, we lost the game from there. Today also I told him there (in Mysore) you did a small mistake, but don’t repeat it here. He is mature enough to take that (advice) and finish the game as well as he did today. Everyone had that hurt of losing to Mumbai,” he remarked.

With this win, Karnataka also equalled Delhi (7) as the team with second highest number of titles. Mumbai remain the undisputed kings with 40 wins to their credit. Overnight 272/6, Maharashtra batsmen continued to frustrate Karnataka as they batted almost the entire first session. Skipper Rohit Motwani (21) and Shrikant Mundhe (42) added 39 while the latter added a further 31 for the eighth wicket with Anupam Sanklecha. With Akshay Darekar throwing his bat around 24 runs came for the ninth wicket before Shreyas Gopal (4/47) polished off the tail with two quick scalps. By that time Maharashtra had extended their lead to 156. 

Vinay continued to operate with the pacers in the morning and bowled a long spell from one end with a shortened run–up when keeping Shreyas appeared a better bet. Eventually, it was Shreyas who accounted for the last two wickets as they tried to attack him. Karnataka had three overs before lunch break and two full sessions to get the winning runs and they replied with 157/3 in 40.5 overs. With nothing to lose, Maharashtra came hard at Karnataka batsmen and their frequent loud appeals bordered on the desperate.

There was a fair bit of turn but batting wasn’t a hazardous occupation on the slow surface. Maharashtra players tried every trick in the book to get the wickets but openers Robin Uthappa (36) and KL Rahul (29) deflated their eagerness with a 65-run stand for the opening wicket. Their association, dominated by Uthappa, dashed the faint hopes that Maharashtra had been nursing. A promoted Amit Verma (38) did his bit to quell the apprehension, if any, in Karnataka camp before Pandey and Karun Nair applied the finishing touches.      

It had been 15 years since Karnataka had won the Ranji Trophy in 1998-99 when the Sunil Joshi-led side had overwhelmed Madhya Pradesh at the M Chinnaswamy in Bangalore. The wait had been long and hence the victory was that much sweeter. As Nair, who made his debut only this season, lofted off-spinner Chirag Khurana over long-on fence to complete Karnataka’s victory, his ecstatic team-mates stormed the ground in unbridled joy. 

There were a few hundred supporters some of whom kept cheering the team on by screaming and waving the red-and-gold coloured flag that has come to symbolise State colours. However, there won’t be any dearth of support when this team takes on Rest of India for the Irani Cup in Bangalore from February 9. The last time Karnataka had enjoyed a double – Ranji and Irani Cup – was in 1998-99, the last time they had held the Ranji Trophy also.

Score board

MAHARASHTRA (I Innings): 305 all out.

KARNATAKA (I Innings): 515 all out.

MAHARASHTRA (II Innings; O/n: 272/6): Rohit Motwani c Gautam b Mithun 21 (73m, 48b), Shrikant Mundhe c Gautam b Shreyas 42 (134m, 75b, 3x6), Anupam Sanklecha c Nair b Mithun 14 (34m, 19b, 1x6), Akshay Darekar c Uthappa b Shreyas 13 (24m, 17b, 2x4), Samad Fallah (not out) 2 (10m, 3b). Extras (B-6, LB-4, W-11, NB-3) 24. Total (all out, 91.2 overs) 366.

Fall of wickets: 7-307 (Motwani), 8-338 (Sanklecha), 9-362 (Darekar).

Bowling: R Vinay Kumar 29-1-116-4 (w-3), A Mithun 22-1-77-2 (w-2), S Arvind 21-0-67-0 (nb-3), Robin Uthappa 2-0-15-0, Manish Pandey 2-0-14-0 (w-6), Shreyas Gopal 13.2-1-47-4, Amit Verma 2-0-20-0.  

KARNATAKA (II Innings): Robin Uthappa c Khurana b Darekar 36 (69m, 47b, 6x4), KL Rahul c Khurana b Mundhe 29 (104m, 66b, 3x4, 2x6), Amit Verma c & b Khurana 38 (64m, 49b, 6x4, 1x6), Manish Pandey (not out) 28 (73m, 43b, 3x4), Karun Nair (not out) 20 (44m, 43b, 1x4, 1x6). Extras (B-1, LB-2, NB-3) 6. Total (for 3 wkts, 40.5 overs) 157. 

Fall of wickets: 1-65 (Uthappa), 2-87 (Rahul), 3-120 (Verma).

Bowling: Samad Fallah 11-2-28-2 (nb-2), Anupam Sanklecha 3-2-7-0, Akshay Darekar 10-0-46-1, Chirag Khurana 8.5-0-53-1, Shrikant Mundhe 8-1-20-1 (nb-1).

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