HYDERABAD— Karnataka became Ranji Trophy winners for the seventh time as they completed a seven-wicket win in the final against Maharashtra, their seventh outright win of the season.
Set just 157 on the final day at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal, Karnataka completed the target a little after tea on the final day when Karun Nair slammed off-spinner Chirag Khurana over long-on for six. It ended the state’s 15-year-wait for another Ranji Trophy title.
Maharashtra were bowled out for 366 in their second innings having begun the day precariously placed at 272-6. Shrikant Munde (42) stuck around for 42 runs, taking Maharashtra’s lead past 150.
Pacer Abhimanyu Mithun and young leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal took all the four Maharashtra wickets to fall today, leaving Karnataka just 64 overs to chase down the tricky target.
Opener and senior member of the team, Robin Uthappa survived an LBW shout first ball of the chase from Samad Fallah. Uthappa and in-form batsman Lokesh Rahul began a slow but steady chase. Rahul broke the shackles hitting Khurana for two sixes and a four in the 15th over.
After the openers departed, Amit Verma kept the scoring rate up with a brisk 38, taking Karnataka within 37 runs at tea.
Manish Pandey and Nair finished off the job without further loss.
'BIGGER THAN PERSONAL MILESTONE'
Karnataka captain, R Vinay Kumar, who completed 300 First Class wickets during the final, said the personal achievement was nothing compared to winning the Ranji Trophy.
"Ranji Trophy is bigger than individual achievements," he said. "We all worked very hard for this, with the support staff and it's an amazing moment. We've been doing well for many years but we couldn't win in 2009-10 and then made the quarter-finals but couldn't go further.
"So we wanted to win it this time and it's a superb team effort. Most of the players are around 25-26 years and they all want to play for the country, they all aim big and are doing well. We had the ability to win and the belief and took it forward match by match as a positive unit. Lifting the Ranji Trophy is a great honour and I'd like to thank my team-mates for that."
While Vinay took 29 wickets in the tournament, he was bested by new ball partner Abhimanyu Mithun. The tireless workhorse excelled for yet another season with 41 wickets with two fivers and one tenner at an average of 24.
THE NEW RAHUL
KL Rahul, who finished the tournament with a monumental tally of 1033 runs in 17 outings, said he had saved his best for last.
"I was hoping I would save my best for the end and that's what happened," he said. "I took it one game at a time and that helped my batting. I was getting the starts but was not covering them. All my team-mates supported and pushed me to do well. We wanted to enjoy the batting and the bowlers put a lot of pressure, so our plan was to attack the spinners. Always a dream to win Ranji Trophy."
Maharashtra captain Rohit Motwani said it was an achievement for the side to reach the final for the first time since 1993. The team hasn't won the Ranji Trophy since their back-to-back titles in 1940 and 1941.
"Extremely proud of my side, they have been showing a lot character from game one, there are a lot of positives," he said. "They have been working hard as a unit. Motwani did admit that dropping four catches on the second day cost them heavily."
"Catches win matches and that was important and we dropped a few but we overcame quite well on the second day with seven wickets. If we had taken those, we would have given a better fight. When we made it to quarter-finals, that's when we thought we can lift the Ranji Trophy.
"The hope started building up from there, even the Bengal game finished in three games. Only thing was we didn't bat well on day one and things didn't go our way. The batting -- Jadhav, Khadiwale, Bawne and till No. 8 they all contributed, with the bowlers who took 35-40 wickets."
Brief Scores: Maharashtra 305 (A Bawne 89, C Khurana 64, A Atitakr 50; Vinay Kumar 3-81, A Mithun 3-49, S Aravind 3-65) and 366 (K Jadhav 112, A Bawne 61, S Mundhe 42; Vinay Kumar 4-116, S Gopal 4-47) lost to Karnataka 515 (R Uthappa 72, KL Rahul 131, G Sathish 117, K Nair 44; S Fallah 3-93, S Mundhe 3-90) and 157-3 (A Verma 38, R Uthappa 36; S Mundhe 1-20) by 7 wickets.