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Madhya Pradesh clinch first Ranji Trophy title; defeat Mumbai by six wickets in final (ld)

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Bengaluru, June 26 (Ajit Weekly News) It was a historic Sunday at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium for Madhya Pradesh as they defeated Mumbai by six wickets in the final to clinch their maiden Ranji Trophy title.

The historic win was fashioned by centuries from Yash Dubey, Shubham Sharma and Rajat Patidar in the first innings and after Mumbai were all out for 269 in their second innings on day five, Sharma and Patidar helped them chase down 108 in 29.5 overs to make Sunday an unforgettable day for Madhya Pradesh.

The victory is also another feather in the cap of Chandrakant Pandit’s glittering coaching CV in domestic cricket, after previously guiding Mumbai (thrice) and Vidarbha (twice) to Ranji Trophy titles. Co-incidentally, Pandit had missed winning the Ranji Trophy as the Madhya Pradesh captain in 1998/99 at this very venue and 23 years later, the stars aligned for him to win the trophy as its head coach.

The pursuit of 108 got off to a rocky start for Madhya Pradesh as Dhawal Kulkarni got one to sneak through Yash Dubey’s defence and downed the middle stump. Shubham Sharma and Himanshu Mantri ran some quick singles and kept the scoreboard ticking despite no boundaries coming.

The introduction of off-spinner Tanush Kotian opened the floodgates for Madhya Pradesh, with Mantri drilling him down the ground, followed by a fine paddle sweep for two boundaries. When Kotian returned for his third over, Mantri crunched a drive past non-striker for another boundary.

Against Shams Mulani, Mantri had swept and survived as the top-edge landed wide of square leg. But in the left-arm spinner’s next over, Mantri again tried to sweep, but the ball brushed past his foot to hit the stumps. Mulani returned to take out Parth Sahani cheaply.

Sharma and Rajat Patidar, who was greeted with ‘RCB, RCB’ chants from the crowd, rotated the strike well against Mulani and Kotian apart from a near run-out of the latter. It was the introduction of pacer Mohit Awasthi brought boundaries for Madhya Pradesh, with Patidar driving on the up between extra cover and mid-off, followed by a cracking punch down the ground.

Sharma took the third boundary of the over by bisecting mid-wicket and mid-on with perfection through his pull. In a bid to finish the chase quickly, Sharma reached out to slog-sweep, only for the ball to be caught by a forward diving point. Patidar dabbed Sarfaraz Khan through backward point before taking a single through the same region to give Madhya Pradesh their first Ranji Trophy title.

Earlier, left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya Singh scalped four wickets while conceding 98 runs as Mumbai were bowled out for 269 in 57.3 overs at lunch. Mumbai came out with an intention to get quick runs but barring Sarfaraz and Suved Parkar, they did not get as much runs they had expected on the last day of the final. They were also hurt by the fact that they lost wickets at crucial intervals, including two run-outs.

Resuming from overnight score of 113/2, Parkar swept the first ball of the day for a boundary off Kumar Kartikeya Singh. But Madhya Pradesh, who resorted to bowling wide lines, got a breakthrough when Gaurav Yadav made a mess of Armaan Jaffer’s stumps.

With Madhya Pradesh’s game plan quite clear – spinners to bowl on leg stump line and fast bowlers to bowl in the wide outside the off-stump region, they managed to keep Mumbai quiet for six overs. But Sarfaraz had other ideas, sweeping Parth Sahani twice for four and six.

Parkar welcomed Anurag Agarwal by walking down the pitch and driving through extra cover before a misfield at point for four gave him his half-century. But Parkar was out in the very next over, missing the flatter ball from Kartikeya and lost his off-stump. Three balls later, Kartikeya had another wicket when Yashasvi Jaiswal, who didn’t open due to ankle injury, heaved an expansive slog to short third man.

Sarfaraz and Mulani were providing stability for Mumbai before a huge mix-up caused the run-out of the latter for a non-existent single. In a bid to go big, Sarfaraz slog-swept an outside the off-stump ball from Sahani but the top-edge went straight to deep mid-wicket.

Sarfaraz’s dismissal at 45 meant he finishes the season with 982 runs from nine innings at an average of 122.75. Kartikeya and Sahani wiped off rest of the tail to give Madhya Pradesh a target of 108 for their first-ever Ranji Trophy triumph, which they achieved with more than a session left.

Brief Scores: Mumbai 374 all out in 127.4 overs and 269 all out in 57.3 overs (Suved Parkar 51, Sarfaraz Khan 45; Kumar Kartikeya Singh 4/98, Parth Sahani 2/43) lost to Madhya Pradesh 536 all out in 177.2 overs and 108/4 in 29.5 overs (Himanshu Mantri 37, Rajat Patidar 30 not out; Shams Mulani 3/41, Dhawal Kulkarni 1/7) by six wickets

–Ajit Weekly News

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