A terrifying display of fast bowling handed Mumbai their 40th Ranji Trophy in great haste as Saurashtra crumpled under pressure at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday. It was a premature end to a heavily lop-sided match. The visitors, beginning their second innings 207 behind, were shot out for 82 in just 36.3 overs, leaving Mumbai massive winners by an innings and 125 runs well within the third day itself.
Medium pacer Dhawal Kulkarni (5/32) and skipper Ajit Agarkar (4/15) and were the principal wreckers. Agarkar removed both the openers – Shitanshu Kotak and Sagar Jogiyani – and first innings half-centurion Aarpit Vasavada for a blob apiece. Kulkarni accounted for Rahul Dave (5), captain Jaydev Shah (6) and the dangerous Sheldon Jackson (9) to ensure there was no fightback whatsoever.
Even Mumbai would have been surprised at the degree of Saurashtra’s capitulation and for a while, at 20/6, it appeared that the lowest-ever total in the Ranji Trophy was in danger of being underwhelmed. That dishonor avoided, Saurashtra did little else to vindicate their presence in the final of India’s biggest domestic competition, their dependence on a flat home track at Rajkot surfacing fatally at the Wankhede.
Centurion opener Wasim Jaffer was named Man of the Match, beating Dhawal Kulkarni, who took nine wickets for 56 runs in the match.
"(It's) A great moment to get a hundred in the finals. Once we got them out for 148, it was important to bat well, and that's what we did. The bowlers did the job really well. Probably this wicket had much more help for the bowlers, so it was a good decision to bowl first. Kulkarni has been bowling well. He was unlucky in the league stages, but in this match he got the wickets too," he said once the victorious huddle in the middle had broken.
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When play began, Ankeet Chavan’s entertaining 41 allowed Mumbai to take their lead past 200, before the innings concluded on 355. Chavan struck six boundaries in his cameo, his refreshing aggression proving a counterfoil to the preceding sedateness of Hiken Shah (55). Makvana’s double strike mopped aside Mumbai’s tail 15 minutes to lunch, leaving Saurashtra’s openers three overs to play out before the first interval.
The template was set then itself. Kotak, playing what was possibly his last Ranji innings and four runs away from completing 8,000 first class runs, chased, most uncharacteristically, a wide down the leg side to give a diving Aditya Tare a catch behind the wicket.
Jogiyani did not disturb the scorers either. He remained planted and pushed lamely outside off against Agarkar for Tare’s second victim. Kulkarni struck in the next over, movement and bounce luring Dave to shoulder the ball to gully, where it was gobbled up by Chavan.
Vasavada padded up to Agarkar and was given out by umpire K. Hariharan - whose spate of poor calls continued – although the ball would have comfortably missed off stump. Kulkarni then uprooted Jaydev Shah’s middle stick with a fast, straight delivery, leaving Saurastra half down, 11 on the board, humiliation writ glaringly ahead and Hyderabad’s abysmal 21 in grave danger.
It only got worse. Jackson played back to a superlative length offering from Kulkarni that rattled into the furniture. Kamlesh Makvana perished to a Nayar outwinger, and Sowrya Sanandiya – the first man into double figures – was taken at gully minutes before tea.
Unadkat and Dharamendrasinh Jadeja hung on until the break, but Agarkar and Kulkarni returned to clear them out. The Mumbai captain had Unadkat caught behind, while Kulkarni completed his five-for with another edge - Jadeja’s - to Tare, who equaled Uday Kaul for the most wicket-keeping victims this season at 41 dismissals.
Scoreboard: Day 3
Saurashtra 1st Innings: 148
Mumbai 1st Innings: 355
Wasim Jaffer lbw b Jadeja 132
Kaustubh Pawar c & b Trivedi 21
Aditya Tare (wk) c Vasavada b Sanandiya 3
Sachin Tendulkar run out (Makvana) 22
Abhishek Nayar c Unadkat b Makvana 26
Hiken Naresh Shah c S Jogiyani b S Sanandiya 55
Ajit Agarkar lbw b Jadeja 2
Dhawal Kulkarni c S Kotak b S Trivedi 18
Ankeet Chavan c & b K Makvana 41
Shardul Thakur c & b K Makvana 10
Vishal Vishwas Dabholkar not out 0
Jaidev Unadkat 31-0-73-3; Siddharth Trivedi 15-2-54-7; Saurya Sanandiya 27-2-73-9; Dharmendrasinh Aniruddsinh Jadeja 19-2-96-0; Kamlesh Makvana 16-3-49-2.
Saurashtra 2nd Innings:
Shitanshu Kotak c A Tare b A Agarkar 0
Sagar Jogiyani (wk) c A Tare b A Agarkar 0
Rahul Rajendra Dave c A Chavan b D Kulkarni 5
Aarpit Vasavada lbw b A Agarkar 0
Jaydev Shah (c) b D Kulkarni 6
Sheldon Jackson b D Kulkarni 9
Kamlesh Makvana c Hiken Shah b A Nayar 7
Saurya Sanandiya c V V Dabholkar b D Kulkarni 16
Jaidev Unadkat c A Tare b A Agarkar 9
Dharmendrasinh Aniruddsinh Jadeja c A Tare b D Kulkarni 22
Siddharth Trivedi not out 0
Mumbai Bowling: Ajit Agarkar 9-4-15-5; Dhawal Kulkarni 14.3.5-31-7; Shardul Thakur 8-0-29-1; Abhishek Nayar 3-1-3-0; Ankeet Chavan 1-0-2-1.
Mumbai won by an innings and 125 runs.