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Vidarbha crush Delhi by 9 wickets, win maiden Ranji Trophy title

Vidarbha crush Delhi’s hopes of a fightback, dismiss them cheaply in their second innings to complete victory in four days in the Ranji Trophy final.

cricket Updated: Jan 01, 2018 18:49 IST
Sidharth Gulati
Sidharth Gulati
Hindustan Times, Indore
Vidarbha,Delhi,Ranji Trophy
Vidarbha players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Ranji Trophy final against Delhi in Indore on Monday.(PTI)

Vidarbha crushed any feeble hopes Delhi had of a fightback, sealing a nine-wicket win with a day to spare to clinch their maiden Ranji Trophy title at Indore’s Holkar Stadium on Monday. (Highlights)

The contrast couldn’t have been more apparent between the unfancied winners and the seven-time champions who were outplayed in all departments. For the second year, a new team was being crowned champion after Gujarat beat Mumbai in the final of the previous edition.

Delhi somehow managed to avert an innings defeat before being dismissed for 280 in their second innings, after Vidarbha’s first innings ended on 547, a lead of 252.

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Vidarbha completed the formalities reaching 32/1 in just five overs to burst into celebrations on the pitch.

The Rishabh Pant-led Delhi were tamed by zestful spells from Akshay Wakhare and Rajneesh Gurbani. Delhi’s seven Ranji Trophy wins are only behind Mumbai (41) and Karnataka (8), but in the end, they were battered and left wondering what different strategy they could’ve adopted.

Players and the support staff ran on to the field in joy as Wasim Jaffer pulled one to fine leg boundary to help the Faiz Fazal-led side crush Delhi in the final session on the penultimate day.

Before giving themselves the wonderful New Year gift, Vidarbha’s best performance in the premier domestic tournament was in 2002–03 and 2011–12 when they reached the semi-finals of the Plate Group. They had qualified for the quarterfinals in 1970-71 and 1995–96.

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Shorey, Rana’s late fight

Trailing by 252 runs, openers Kunal Chandela and Gautam Gambhir got Delhi off to a decent start in the second innings, putting on 32 runs, before Akshay Wakhare struck to get Chandela, who had a good season (324 runs) except the 0 and 9 in the final.

Former India opener Gambhir, who had suffered a thumb injury while fielding on Sunday, looked in good touch, smashing seven fours in no time.

But Rajneesh Gurbani, who took a hat-trick in the Delhi first innings, trapped the former Delhi captain leg before for 36. However, Gambhir was a victim of poor umpiring as TV replays showed the ball was missing leg-stump.

The left-handed batsman finished the tournament as the highest run-getter for Delhi, with 683 run in nine games.

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Dhruv Shorey and Nitish Rana also played positively and brought up their half-centuries. The intent of both batsmen was clear. They played attacking cricket and succeeded as that gave Delhi their only chance of any comeback.

Shorey, the first-innings centurion, looked set to get a big one until he edged one off left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate to wicket-keeper Akshay Wadkar. He scored 62 (10x4).

Rana fell in the final over before tea. A fuller delivery from Gurbani did the trick as the left-handed batsman looked to drive through cover, instead edging straight to Wadkar.

The middle-order, led by Rishabh Pant, couldn’t contribute much as Delhi were bundled out for 280.

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Off-break bowler Wakhare took four wickets while Gurbani and left-arm spinner Sarwate shared five wickets between them.

Resuming on Vidarbha’s overnight 528/7, Siddhesh Neral got an early life when Kulwant Khejroliya overstepped in the 159th over after beating the batsman with a slower delivery to bowl him.

Neral then scored four boundaries in no time before being dismissed by Navdeep Saini for 74 (8x4, 4x6).

Wadkar, who scored his maiden first-class century on Sunday, fell to Khejroliya at his overnight score of 133.

Saini ended Vidarbha’s innings by removing Aditya Thakare, finishing with 5/135.

First Published: Jan 01, 2018 17:57 IST