On this day in 2019: Vidarbha win their second consecutive Ranji Trophy title

Exactly two years ago on February 7, Vidarbha showed the country that their heroic triumph in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy was not a fluke as they defended the title in style by clinching the 2018-19 title too. They won the title with a commanding 78-run win over Saurashtra in the final and became only the sixth team in the tournament’s long history to defend the title.

The thrilling final

Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal won the toss and elected to bat first in the all-important game. The defending champions, however, failed to start well with the bat and lost wickets at regular intervals. At one stage, they were reeling at 139 for 6. Even 200 was looking like a distant dream for Vidarbha at that stage before an unbeaten fifty from Akshay Karnewar and some useful contributions from the lower-order batsmen helped them score 312.

For Saurashtra, it was a case of a missed chance as their failure to close Vidarbha’s innings quickly came back to haunt them towards the end of the game. With the bat, Saurashtra did well to ensure that Vidarbha did not get a big lead as they scored 307 with opener Snell Patel scoring 102. For Vidarbha, Aditya Sarwate and Akshay Wakhare made the difference with the ball, taking five and four wickets respectively.

With Vidarbha’s lead cut to just five runs, the match was finely poised. And by the time Vidarbha’s second innings ended, it became very clear that the match was set for a thrilling finish. Dharmendrasinh Jadeja took six wickets as Saurashtra bowled out Vidarbha for 200 to turn the game on its head. For Vidarbha, Sarwate impressed with the bat as he scored 49 to help his side post a respectable total.

Set a target of 206, Saurashtra were looking favourites thanks to the presence of India star Cheteshwar Pujara. However, it did not take Vidarbha long to strengthen their grip on the game. Saurashtra’s top-order including Pujara failed miserably as they finished day three on 58 for 5. On the fourth day, their remaining five batsmen could add only 69 runs as Vidbarbha bowled out Saurashtra for 127 to win the clash. Once again, Sarwate was the star with the ball for Vidarbha, taking 6 for 59 to finish the game with 11 wickets.