State stalwarts hail Ranji triumph

A show of great character and determination, gush former skippers Dravid, Kumble, Joshi

State stalwarts hail Ranji triumph

Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Sunil Joshi were at the helm when Karnataka completed a glorious hat-trick of Ranji Trophy triumphs in the mid 90s. Since then Karnataka featured many times in the knock-out matches without laying their hands on the prestigious silverware. 

But the R Vinay Kumar-led side ended a 15-year wait on Sunday, defeating Maharashtra by seven wickets for their seventh Ranji title, symbol of domestic supremacy. Kumble, Dravid and Joshi was understandably elated at the achievement. 

Dravid, who had made hundreds in the 1995-96 and 1997-98 finals against Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, termed the victory a big moment in Karnataka cricket. “I am thrilled with the victory. As a former cricketer you feel great when your State wins the Ranji Trophy. We got to give full credit to the team for the way they played and the coaching staff and support staff all played their roles well. It is a big moment,” said Dravid, who led the side in the ’97-98 final in Bangalore. 

 Dravid attributed the title win to the perfect blending of experienced players and fresh faces. “Players like Vinay, Robin and Appanna have been around for a while and they were joined by the likes of Manish Pandey and Mithun. Now, all of them have been joined by a new batch of players like KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Shreyas Gopal and Ronit More and all of them have done well together. 

“I am sure those players, who lost the final to Mumbai, would have been hurting and this would be extra special for them. None of them have won the Ranji Trophy before and this is a moment that they will cherish forever."

The former Indian skipper also said playing some four-day tournaments prior to the season helped Karnataka’s cause. "I think the four-day tournaments like the Safi Darashah that the teams played ahead of the season...I am sure helped the players get well prepared and we have done well in the under-25 tournaments too and all that helped."

Kumble had led Karnataka to Ranji title in 1995-96 after a hiatus of 13 years, and the legendary leg-spinner paid rich tributes to the new bunch. "It is a great achievement. Winning the Ranji Trophy is never easy. Hats off to the team for the way they performed.

 They had seven outright victories and it speaks about their consistency. Individual brilliance and collective effort combined well and the bench strength was just amazing.

 Amit Verma was picked in the semifinal and he scored a century, Ganesh Satish was picked in the final and he scored a century, S Arvind came back after a long time and he got crucial wickets. Vinay also revealed the experience he gained all these years and at any given point some player or the other was putting their hand up and performing,” said Kumble. 

Joshi was the last Karnataka skipper before Vinay to hold the Ranji Trophy aloft in 1998-99, and the former India left-arm spinner said the team showed wonderful fighting spirit when the chips were down. “It has been a long wait for us -- 15 years and this team and support staff have done wonderfully well over the season to achieve this. They have showed a lot of character over this season, and they fought back brilliantly when the chips were down. 

“A special congratulation for Vinay who led the team from the front. He also led the bowling attack superbly with able support from Mithun and Sharath. Our top-order batting was excellent and even some of the newcomers like Karun did their job really well along with the more experienced names.” 

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