Parthiv's Gujarat have final say

Cricket Ranji Trophy: Captain's aggressive 143 sinks defending champions Mumbai in title-tilt

Parthiv's Gujarat have final say

Chirag Gandhi sliced a Shardul Thakur delivery to the fence and let out a war cry as his team-mates rushed to the ground to embrace the right-handed batsman. But the hero of the match was their skipper Parthiv Patel. Battling supreme pressure on the last day of the final, the southpaw produced the most important innings of his career to give Gujarat their maiden Ranji Trophy title.

Gujarat resumed the day from 47 for no loss, needing 265 more runs to win. But two quick blows left them at 51/2. Like a true leader, however, Parthiv took the attack to the opposition and slammed an entertaining 143 (283m, 196b, 24x4) to help Gujarat register a thumping five-wicket victory. Gujarat’s successful chase of a daunting target, which came in 76.3 overs on the day, ended Mumbai’s title defence on a disappointing note.

The left-hander’s 116-run partnership with Manprit Juneja (54, 143m, 115b, 8x4) for the fourth wicket pushed Mumbai to the wall and Gujarat then sealed the deal with a 94-run stand between Parthiv and Rujul Bhatt (27 n.o.).

In what was an innings of class and positive intent, Parthiv walked back to the pavilion in great disappointment, after taking his team to a touching distance of the much-awaited victory. With Gujarat needing just 13 runs to win, Parthiv miscued a pull and gave a return catch to bowler Shardul. But the skipper had done his job to perfection and he just had to wait just one over to rejoice with his young bunch.

Mumbai’s fielding woes continued on the last day of their campaign, dropping as many as four catches. Their average bowling didn’t help them either and the domestic giants were denied their 42nd crown.     

Gujarat thus became the only team to have won all three domestic tournaments – Vijay Hazare (2015-16) and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (2012-13, 14-15). Parthiv’s men will vie for another the title, the Irani Cup, against the Rest of India from January 20-24 at the Bra­bo­urne stadium in Mumbai. 

Earlier, the in-form opener Priyank Panchal, who had slammed a breezy 34 on the fourth day, edged one off Balwinder Singh Sandhu to second slip in the second over of the day. Sandhu then castled Bharghav Merai after three overs to put Mumbai on top.

But Parthiv, unperturbed by the situation, paced his innings with confidence. The 31-year-old used the pace of the ball and found gaps to perfection. Displaying great wrist work, Parthiv slammed some stylish fours on the on-side and the left-hander drove brilliantly through the covers.

Parthiv had great amount of luck going his way as four of his 24 boundaries came through inside-edges. On any other day, one of those edges could have gone on to hit the stumps. But it was his day and Parthiv kept his free-flowing approach even as he neared his ton.

Batting on 85, Parthiv slammed three fours off Sandhu, all between mid-on and midwicket and he reached his ton, once again with an inside-edge!

Juneja’s innings was just what the situation demanded as the right-hander eased some pressure off Parthiv by dispatching the loose balls to the fence. Juneja’s innings was marked with stylish straight drives to the pacers and inside-out shots to the spinners.

Mumbai, who had earlier dropped Gohel, grassed Rujul Bhatt when he was on one, with Gujarat still needing 90 runs. That fumble ended their one last chance of a fightback and as defeat stared at them, they offered Bhatt two more chances.

Mind-games, constant chatter by the fielders and frequent appeals didn’t provide the desired result for Mumbai as Gujarat basked in their hard-earned success.

score board

MUMBAI (I Innings): 228
GUJARAT (I Innings): 328
MUMBAI (II Innings): 411
GUJARAT (II Innings; O/n: 47/0): Samit Gohel c Tare b Nayar 21 (138m, 87b, 2x4), Priyank Panchal c Yadav b Sandhu 34 (66m, 47b, 7x4), Bhargav Merai b Sandhu 2 (19m, 13b), Parthiv Patel c & b Thakur 143 (283m, 196b, 24x4), Manprit Juneja c Tare b Herwadkar 54 (143m, 115b, 8x4), Rujul Bhatt (not out) 27 (97m, 77b, 3x4), Chirag Gandhi (not out) 11 (11m, 7x4, 2x6). Extras (LB-8, W-5, NB-3, PEN-5) 21. Total (for 5 wkts, 89.5 overs) 313.

Fall of wickets: 1-47 (Panchal), 2-51 (Merai), 3-89 (Gohel), 4-205 (Juneja), 5-299 (Parthiv).

Bowling: Shardul Thakur 22.5-4-90-1 (nb-1, w-1), Balwinder Singh Sandhu 24-4-101-2 (nb-2), Vijay Gohil 15-4-46-0, Abhishek Nayar 15-4-31-1, Vishal Dabolkhar 4-0-15-0, Akhil Herwadkar 9-1-17-1. 

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