Cricket

Ranji Trophy 2024 Final: Mumbai Beat Vidarbha By 169 Runs, Clinch Title For 42nd Time

Vidarbha captain Akshay Wadkar made a defiant 102 off 199 balls, while out-of-favour India batter Karun Nair compiled a measured 74 in the second innings, but their efforts were not enough as Mumbai captured yet another Ranji Trophy title

PT
Retiring Dhawal Kulkarni lifts the championship trophy after Mumbai beat Vidarbha in the final of Ranji Trophy 2024 at the Wankhede Stadium, in Mumbai on March 14, 2024. Photo: PT
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Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy title for a record-extending 42nd time on Thursday. The most dominant side in Indian domestic cricket dismissed a spirited Vidharba for 368 on the fifth day of 2024 final at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. (More Cricket News)

Defending a mammoth target of 538 runs, Mumbai dismissed Vidarbha for 368 all out with veteran pacer Dhawal Kulkarni cleaning up the final wicket, that of Umesh Yadav in the 135th over for a 169-run win, a relatively big margin in a title clash. But the Maharashtrian derby to crown the best Indian domestic cricket team was a close contest between the two teams having close geographical, cultural and political proximity.

Boasting some of the brightest talents in Indian cricket, Mumbai entered the final as the obvious favourites against the two-time champions. Asked to bat first by Vidarbha captain Akshay Wadkar, Mumbai got off to a flier with Prithvi Shaw and Bhupen Lalwani posting an 81-run opening stand in quick time.

Then a collapse ensued, only for a stunning rearguard action from Shardul Thakur -- Mumbai's hero in their semi-final win over Tamil Nadu -- to change the course of the match. His 69-ball 75-run knock, laced with eight fours and six sixes, helped Mumbai post a decent first-innings total of 224. For Vidarbha, Harsh Dubey and Yash Thakur claimed three wickets each, while Umesh took a brace.

Thakur, then, returned with the ball to trigger a Vidarbha collapse on a seemingly batting-friendly Wankhede top. Talented opener Dhruv Shorey lost his wicket in the third over, and the designated visitors never recovered. The real damage, however, was done by the trio of Dhawal Kulkarni, Shams Mulani and Tanush Kotian -- each taking a three-wicket haul. Vidarbha's first innings witnessed only three double-figure individual scores with Yash Rathod's 27 off 67 being the highest. The fate of the Ranji final was sealed then and there.

But it was only one part of the Mumbai act. They were warming up.

Musheer Khan, the prodigious batter with a penchant for scoring big centuries, played a dominant innings in his second essay to further intimate the visitors. During his 326-ball knock, the 19-year-old from Kurla scored 136 and stitched 130-run and 168-run stands for the third and fourth wickets with skipper Ajinkya Rahane (73) and Shreyas Iyer (95), respectively.

A second innings total of 418 and the target was set - 538 runs!

Vidarbha, the back-to-back winners in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, did produce a collective batting performance in the fourth innings. Ever-reliable Karun Nair absorbed the pressure, facing 220 balls for his 74 runs while skipper Akshay Wadkar hit a century (102 off 199). But as it turned out, they fell short by 169 runs while attempting to climb a mountain.

The pair's 90-run stand for the fifth wicket was followed by another big stand of 130 runs between Wadkar and Harsh Dubey, who scored 65 off 128. But they were only delaying the inevitable.

From 353/6 in 129.2 overs, the innings collapsed to 368 all out in 134.3 overs as Mumbai's Tanush Kotian registered innings figures of 4/95. The 25-year-old offspinner was ably supported by pacer Tushar Deshpande (2/53) and Musheer, who employed his left-arm spin to good effect, claiming two wickets.

"Before talking about us, I want to take a moment to appreciate Vidarbha. The way they showed fight throughout, it would have been very easy for them to give up," Rahane said after the match. "The way they have been playing for the last 7-8 years has been great to see."

This was Mumbai's first Ranji title in eight eight years.

Started as "The Cricket Championship of India", this is the primordial white-ball cricket tournament in the country. In 1935, it was renamed Ranji Trophy to honour of KS Ranjitsinhji of Nawanagar, who represented England from 1896 to 1902, thus becoming the first Indian to play international cricket.

In its 89 editions so far, the Ranji Trophy has seen 19 different winners, with Mumbai (earlier known as Bombay), of course, being the most successful team. The 2024 final was their 48th final.

Karnataka, together with the erstwhile Mysore, have lifted the trophy eight times, one more than Delhi, in 14 attempts.

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