With one league match to go, Mumbai's Ranji Trophy side is still not sure of a semifinal spot. On Friday, however, Amol Muzumdar's boys received a boost from the Mumbai Under-22 squad as the colts overcame a spirited challenge from Maharashtra to emerge the national champions to claim the Col. C K Nayudu Trophy.
In the four-day final that ended in Visakhapatnam on Friday, Mumbai, led by southpaw Sushant Marathe, achieved the victory target of 283 in the last hour of the play with two wickets to spare. Siddharth Chitnis (99), who missed his ton by a single run, was the star for Mumbai.
"It has to boost the senior side," an elated coach Pradeep Sunderam told Hindustan Times. "When your bench strength excels, it is bound to motivate the seniors. I hope the Ranji side will also live up to the expectations."
What made Sunderam prouder of his bunch was that more than half a dozen players were in and out of his side throughout the season as they were required for the Ranji Trophy. While Ajinjya Rahane, Iqbal Abdullah and Prashant Naik could not play a single game, Bhavesh Patel, Murtuza Hussain and Anup Revandkar missed at least half the games as they were part of the Ranji Trophy squad at some point.
"This shows that there is hardly any difference between my players and those in the Ranji Trophy side," Sunderam said. "This augurs well for Mumbai cricket, which is surely on the rise."
The Under-22 side lost in the semifinals for the last three years. And when they finally broke the semis jinx by beating Karnataka last week, captain Sushant Marathe just didn't want to let the opportunity to grab the title go.
"It was my third and last season in Under-22 and I was desperate to make up for the last two years' disappointment," Marathe, who already has had a taste of Ranji Trophy, said. "I am glad we could do it this year."
The victory in the final against Maharashtra was also in a way a revenge for Mumbai as their Under-15 side had lost the all-India final to their neighbours on Tuesday.
Maharashtra 277 all out in 93.4 overs (Nikhil Paradkar 32, Ajinkya Joshi 88 not out; Balvinder Sandhu 3/75, Ankit Chavan 2/22, Rohan Raje 2/86, Siddharth Chitnis 2/30) & 213 all out in 95.1 overs (Deepak Shilakar 53, Ajinkya Joshi 35; Ankit Chavan 6/43) lost to Mumbai 208 all out in 91.4 overs (Anand Singh 98, Siddharth Chitnis 40; Rohit Jadhav 6/74, Ajinkya Joshi 3/75) & 283/8 in 70.4 overs (Sushant Marathe 48, Siddharth Chitnis 99, Aditya Tare 42, Sarvesh Damle 53; Aditya Dole 5/56)
Road to title
Stage Date Opponent Result
Zonal league Oct 27-30 Saurashtra Won by an innings and 15 runs
Zonal league Nov 3-6 Baroda Won by 40 runs November 3 to 6
Zonal league Nov 12-15 Gujarat Won by 9 wickets November 12 to 15.
Zonal league Nov 20-23 Maharashtra Won by 9 wickets
Quarterfinal Dec 6-9 Orissa Won by an innings and 41 runs
Semifinal Dec 12-15 Karnataka Won by 5 wickets
Final Dec 18-21 Maharashtra Won by 2 wickets
Sushant Marathe (capt), Aditya Tare, Omkar Gurav, Siddharth Chitnis, Anup Revandkar, Sarvesh Damle, Sachin Wagh, Ankit Chavan, Ahmed Nizam, Rohan Raje, Ravishankar Singh, Balvinder Sandhu, Anand Singh, Rahul Vengsarkar, Bravish Shetty.
Coach: Pradeep Sunderam; Physiotherapist: Kinjal Suratwalla; Manager: Vinod Deshpande.